Major sports leagues are always in competition to win the off-season.
Based upon the delays and mounting build-up toward what is set to be a wild Free Agency – the NFL looks to dominate the headlines beginning Monday, March 16 at 11:59 a.m. ET.
Or is it Thursday, March 12? Or Saturday?
The NFL’s deadline to designate franchise tags has been set on three different days in the year 2020. Monday morning, it moved for the second time and (hopefully) final time. The deadline for players to submit their vote on the new proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement has also moved around. So let’s answer some questions as to why all this movement keeps happening.
Why are ballots for the new CBA now due Saturday at 11:59 p.m. ET instead of Thursday?
The league wants to make sure players read this 400+ page document carefully and thoroughly. Why? Well, what’s in it will be in affect for the next 11 years if it passes with a simple majority. If it doesn’t pass, then it’s somewhat back to square one and the idea of a decade of labor peace will be tougher to accomplish. The tricky part about moving the deadline is what it affects in the upcoming NFL calendar year which begins at noon eastern on March 18.
What does the CBA affect immediately if passed?
How much time do you have? For our purposes to focus on the moving deadlines, it directly impacts a team’s use of the franchise tag or tags. Yes, plural. As it stands under the current CBA, for this season, teams have the option to designate two tags – the franchise tag and the transition tag. If the new CBA passes, there is only one tag.
Why did the tag deadline move from Thursday to Monday?
So, if the original tag deadline of Thursday March 12 stood, hypothetically teams could have designated two players, and if the CBA passes two days later, one of those would be rescinded. It didn’t make sense to use two and then find out later you have to get rid of one, so this new deadline of after votes are tallied makes much more sense.
What happens after 11:59 a.m. ET on Monday (new franchise tag deadline)?
Mayhem. To be clear, the deadline ends at precisely 11:59:59 ET which means, literally one second later, the legal tampering period begins for free agents.
Why does that matter?
Well, it’s important to know who is available in free agency and who’s not before teams start courting players during the two-day legal tampering period. The league moved the franchise tag deadline to the last possible second it could be because teams can start making their pitches to players Monday at noon ET. The goal of a tag is to keep a player off the market during free agency and the “market” opens Monday at noon eastern.