The Franchise tag is bad for players


Quin Norris, Sports Writer

Over the summer the biggest talking points around the NFL focused on the contract extensions for Dak Prescott, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Of those three players two of them, Dak Prescott and Derrick Henry, were given the franchise tag option to their contracts.

For those who do not know a franchise tag contract in the NFL works by giving the player a set amount of money they will earn for the season no matter how they play that year. Often this will lead to franchises leaving this option strictly to keep a top tier talent at a position to keep them from going on to a new team who is willing to pay out a higher price for the players skill-set. The franchise tag will also help an owner keep their salary cap numbers in check by not paying out a large amount of money over multiple years.

However, the biggest complaint around the franchise tag is that it does not have the players best interest in mind as they do not have a guaranteed job past the upcoming season and would have to reach a new contract agreement or get franchise tagged yet again.

Another major advantage that exists for owners using the franchise tag comes in the form of learning what kind of player you have after a rookie contract. By placing them on the franchise tag you can look to see how they perform when a contract is on the line. For example, Dak Prescott was asking for a large contract and instead of just giving it to him the Cowboys were going to make him earn it. However, this thinking is inherently flawed as you get that opportunity with most players who would be asking for a large contract after their initial rookie contract is up because they have usually been playing anywhere between three to five years for you. I would argue that if that isn’t not a large enough sample size then what is?

The clearest downside to the franchise tag for players comes when they get injured. Football by nature is an extremely physical sport that leads to the potential of a devastating injury happening at any moment. There is no better example of this than what happened last weekend to the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott. While executing an improvised quarterback scramble the defensive player of the New York Giants landed on Prescott’s right ankle giving him a compound fracture and dislocation of the ankle. This injury will now sideline him for a minimum of four months and could last as long as six months.

Despite a smaller recovery time this does not take into account the effects the injury will have on the future of his career meaning the safety of his financial future is now in jeopardy. Many would argue including myself that this is inherently wrong as many normal contracts include injury clauses for issues just like the one suffered by Prescott giving a security blanket to those athletes who fear they could lose the ability to perform their jobs at any moment.

Imagine working at your future job and an injury that you suffered as a result of the job is the reason you will no longer be able to make any more money in your desired field. This is the reality that players on the franchise tag face every single day.

However, there are still options that Roger Goodell and the NFL have in place that could help with this issue. The first of which is to make injury insurance a guaranteed part of the franchise tag. This is only a minor fix though as the real issue that faces the tag is the use of it on young players like Prescott. Another potential fix is to make it where owners of NFL franchises can not place a player on the franchise tag right off of their rookie contracts guaranteeing them anywhere from four to six years of a play for pay contract with money incentives that the vast majority of players are on but keeping the tag for a proven veteran that your team can not afford to lose but due to the salary cap need to put on the franchise tag.

I encourage that all readers be mindful of the scheme that is the franchise tag and hear the players out when they “complain” about wanting to get paid. They do this because of what we saw on Sunday.