Jason La Canfora Says NFL Players Must Fight Franchise Tag In Next CBA

In the NBA, elite players change teams, but the franchise tag prevents the cream of the NFL crop from hitting the market in their prime, Jason La Canfora said

Tiki and Tierney
October 30, 2018 - 10:30 am

USA Today Images

For years, the NFL was a year-round sport. From the regular season to the playoffs to the Super Bowl to the Combine to the Draft to OTAs to training camp to preseason and back again to the regular season, the NFL was a 24/7/365 machine.

This year, however, has felt different.

“The downtime in the NFL has actually felt more like a downtime than it normally does,” CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora said on Tiki and Tierney.

But why? How has the NBA suddenly stolen headlines from the NFL?

Well, JLC has a pretty good explanation.

“Guys actually change teams,” he said. “When is the last time a player the equivalent of LeBron James or Kevin Durant changed teams? I’m sure we’re going to talk franchise tags at some point, but I think that has a lot to do it. The guys that hit the market in NFL free agency now are mostly B-minus to B players who get paid like A players because the A players never hit the market. That’s just the reality. 

“We’ll see what the next collective bargaining agreement holds,” La Canfora continued, “but everybody’s talking about fully guaranteed contracts and will the PA make a stand there and will that be the issue that gets guys to go on strike or have a long labor stoppage? They’re never going to get that, but what they should find a way to do is curtail the use of the franchise tag. That keeps the cream of the crop from hitting the market when they otherwise would have, and that keeps guys who would truly blow the top off of spending from being able to negotiate with all 30 teams at once in their prime.”

Le’Veon Bell is a prime example of that. The Steelers have failed to reach a long-term contract with him in each of the last two seasons. Next year, though, he will hit the open market at 27.

“He’s still going to end up making a lot of money,” La Canfora said. “What that means for Todd Gurley and David Johnson remains to be seen. Those guys were rooting for Bell to sign something long-term that they could negotiate off off, (but) the Steelers wouldn’t do it. The Steelers have Antonio Brown and JuJu (Smith-Schuster) and they’re going to have to pay Ben (Roethlisberger) one more time. And the Steelers draft skill players arguably as well – or better – than anybody in the league. 

“But just because they won’t do it doesn’t mean nobody will do it,” La Canfora continued. “If Le’Veon Bell has another Le’Veon Bell season where he looks like one of the best slot receivers in the league and one of the best running backs in the league and one of the best running backs in the league, then the Jets – or somebody – are going to do it. It takes one team to give him 16.5 a year over four years with $35 million guaranteed. It only takes one team.”