This Friday, the NFL will reach the deadline for teams to work out long-term contracts with players under the franchise tag. If a deal is not reached, the player cannot sign a long-term extension until next offseason. That leaves the player either signing the franchise tag and playing, or holding out for some period of time.
Barring a last minute change, Miller appears set to choose the latter option. He made an appearance on ESPN on Monday, and he was very clear about his plans for the 2016 season if a deal is not done:
“No, I’m not gonna play on the franchise tag. It just doesn’t make sense in any way.”
Miller said that the reasoning was not about the money, and more about the problems with the franchise tag.
“I’ve never really played for money,” Miller said. “It’s bigger than that for me. It’s a league-wide problem that I feel like I’m in a situation to help out with.”
In reality, that’s about money, even if he says it is not. The players don’t like the franchise tag because it restricts their chance to earn more money on contract extension, so it is very clearly about the money. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.
The players are on the wrong end of the financial pool when it comes the franchise tag, and the lack of fully guaranteed contracts. They have not drawn a proverbial line in the sand to force the issue, and it won’t be happening until at least the next CBA negotiations. The best player leverage remains sitting out games. Whether it be a holdout now, or a strike during the next round of CBA negotiations, the players best chance to change some of these tools require serious sacrifice. The owners will not give up these things without one heck of a fight, and for the time-being, I just don’t see it happening.
All that being said, it will be interesting to see if the players push hard on one or both of these issues. I don’t see fully guaranteed contracts happening, but one option would be some kind of requirement that teams have to pay out X amount based on when in a contract a player is released. As for the franchise tag, the players could push for a limitation on its use. But again, any significant changes to either issue will require a serious sacrifice by the players.