Bears 2007 Franchise Tag player, Lance Briggs, wants out of Chi-Town.
I opened up ESPN.com yesterday to find Len Pasquarelli telling me that Lance Briggs is very upset with his franchise tag, hates the Chicago Bears organization because of it (makes sure to leave the actual team out of his disgust), and wants to be traded [Franchised Briggs says he wants trade from Bears]. But is it really the organization’s fault, or should Briggs be blaming a different organization that he belongs to?
When I think of the NFL Franchise Tag, MLB’s antiquated Reserve System pops up in my head. This system was done away with as Free Agency was formed. The NFL has seen a similar type of Reserve System when it was operating under Plan B, which allowed each professional team the first chance to sign up to 37 players on its roster. If any of those players left for another team, the prior team would be compensated.
Plan B was found unconstitutional and in violation of antitrust laws. Owners were still hesitant against giving up all of their rights to restriction, and when Collective Bargaining Agreements were created between the NFL owners and the NFLPA, the owners made sure to include the Franchise Tag.
The Franchise Tag was originally intended for owners to be able to lock up their #1 stud, but the tag has not been used for such purposes [Players losin’ at this game of tag]. Instead, rising second-tier stars have been tagged, and many (like Lance Briggs) have been getting upset about it. But instead of blaming the organization that you play for, why not blame the organization that represents you in signing the actual CBA that limits your free agency options? The NFLPA is officially recognized as the union representing the players, so if players are upset with a particular rule, then the NFLPA is responsible for acting on behalf of its members in future negotiations. And agents, you are responsible to bother the NFLPA until it acts in the best interests of your clients. Briggs, you owe the Bears organization an appology…
But not only for blaming the wrong party. Maybe his agent should inform him that there is a difference between being designated an exclusive franchise player and a non-exclusive franchise player. See, Briggs is wrong in thinking that he has no right to negotiate with other teams. As a non-exclusive franchise player, Briggs can bump up his pay check by signing with another team and playing with the new franchise for that amount of money (and the new franchise giving up 2 first-round picks to the Bears), or being re-signed by the Bears for the new salary that was offered by the new team. In all honesty, the chance that a team is going to give up 2 first-round draft picks is slim, but at least there is some course of action for Briggs.
All in all, we talk about teams franchising players all the time, but do not look very deep into how it is affecting the players who are tagged. Briggs is one of the first to vocally express his feelings on the matter. While he may be wrong in many of his accusations and threats, it is important for the league and the union to pay attention to his words.