It’s crazy to see the offseason continue with undefined rules. There have already been 12 players that have received franchise tags and another who was given the transition tag despite the fact that the NFLPA has said that teams cannot use tags without a CBA in place.
The next tactic that teams will be employing will be to extend restricted-free agent tenders to players that have four and five years of NFL experience. As of now teams are acting as if the same rules apply to last years uncapped season which would allow them to treat any player who has accumulated less than six NFL seasons of experience as a restricted-free agent. This was the case with Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson last year who would have been unrestricted free agents had it been any other season, hence the holdouts.
Darin Gantt of the Charlotte Observer reports that the Carolina Panthers are the first team to use this strategy, as they will use restricted free agents tenders on RB DeAngelo Williams and DE Charles Johnson.
So what does this mean? Basically, there is only two ways that Carolina will be able to use these tenders. First, the union would have to follow through with their threat to decertify which would allow the 2011 season to continue as it had last year. The only other way that these tenders will hold up is if the a new CBA agreement is reached and the years required to become an unrestricted free agent stays at six. Every other scenario would essentially nullify the tenders.
This is most likely just a formality that’s likely to change once a new agreement is in place.