After months of speculation, Carmelo Anthony got his wish. In a trade involving 13 players, cash, and draft picks, Carmelo is now a member of the New York Knicks. He made his intentions known that he wanted to play in New York and would not agree to sign a contract extension with any other team. The Denver Nuggets were left with no real option but to move him to the Knicks for the best package they possibly could. Do not blame Anthony for this situation, he operated within the constraints of the modern day NBA.
With that being said, could a similar situation emerge in the NFL? The NFL tries to shield itself from such situations by allowing teams to maintain the rights to their biggest stars with the franchise tag. Due to this tag, star players find themselves stuck with the option to sign a one year guaranteed contract (while being paid like a top 5 talent at their respective position or by getting a 20% raise over their previous year salary, whichever is greater- for details read this Wikipedia page) with their current team or to hold out – see San Diego Chargers, 2010 – and lose game checks. I guess a player could also do his best Randy Moss or Terrell Owens impersonation- they seem to do a pretty good job of moving from team to team.
With a new collective bargaining agreement being worked on by NFL owners and the NFL Player’s Association, I would love to see the new agreement change the rules involving franchise players. Trust me, I do not want to see Peyton Manning wear anything but a Colts jersey, but I would like to see players have the ability to gain more long term security through multiyear deals.
What if a limit was set for the number of years a player was given the franchise tag? It could be a limit on the consecutive years a player faces the franchise tag or a limit on the total number of years a player would be allowed to be franchised throughout his career. I propose 2 years.
I would look forward to the added strategy that teams would need to incorporate. Would the Patriots still use the franchise tag on Logan Mankins in 2011 for the second straight year if it meant that they would not be able to ever do so again? Would the Eagles use the franchise tag on Michael Vick in 2011 instead of working on a long term deal because they are worried about the number of hits he takes and how those hits will effect his long term health?
If these changes in the franchise tag rules occur you will see the opportunity for a Carmelo-like situation to occur in the NFL.
Could you imagine Adrian Peterson deciding that he wants to play with Tom Brady and forcing the Vikings to work out a deal with only the draft pick-hoarding Patriots?
What if Larry Fitzgerald, tired of the quarterback ineptitude in Arizona, decided he wanted to play with Philip Rivers and held Arizona’s feet to the fire to get something for him before he left via free agency?
The NFL is already the most entertaining sport year-round. Adding the “Carmelo” element would just raise the bar. And can you imagine the fantasy implications?