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Cullen Jenkins And The Franchise Tag

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Cullen Jenkins And The Franchise Tag

With the Patriots, Jets and Eagles using the franchise tags on Logan Mankins, David Harris and Michael Vick respectively, it got me to thinking about the viability of the Packers using the franchise tag on Cullen Jenkins.

What really piqued my interest was the memory of the Packers using the franchise tag on defensive lineman Corey Williams back in 2008 only to be subsequently traded to the Cleveland Browns for a second-round draft choice, and I wondered if that could happen again. But more on that later.

First some background information.

A player with a franchise tag must be offered a minimum of a one-year contract worth the average of the top five players at his position. I think there is also a distinction between an exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, the exclusive of which doesn't allow the player to negotiate with other teams.

A non-exclusive franchise tag allows the player to negotiate with other teams but would result in two first-round draft choices in compensation if that player leaves via free agency.

It should be noted that these are the rules under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that's set to expire on March 3. It's a bone of contention among the NFL and the Player's union whether the franchise tag rules will still apply once a new CBA is eventually agreed upon.

No matter the outcome, it isn't stopping teams from applying the tag now.

Cullen Jenkins is no doubt a valuable player to the Packers. I wrote yesterday, "As a player that can play both inside and outside in both a 3-4 and a 4-3, there should be plenty of teams knocking on his door."

The Packers would probably be happy to see Jenkins return in 2011, but do they have the means to pay him the amount he could command on the open market?

It's been said many times, all it takes is one out of 32 teams to fall in love with him and offer him a contract no other team is willing to match.

The Packers have the franchise tag at their disposal, but its value is expected to be in excess of $13 million this season. That amount of money is pretty steep, even for a player of Jenkins' caliber. But by tagging him, the Packers at least retain his rights.

Time to re-visit Corey Williams.

As stated earlier, the Packers tagged him and then traded him away for a second-round pick. It's conceivable the Packers could do the same with Jenkins, although there's a couple obstacles standing in the way.

Jenkins would first have to agree to and sign a contract before being traded away. When the Packers tagged Williams, they allowed the Browns to negotiate a contract with him, he signed that contract with the Packers, and was then traded.

For the Packers to be able to do the same thing with Jenkins, they'd have to find a trading partner that would be willing to not only pay Jenkins an exorbitant amount of money, they'd also give up a draft choice in exchange as well.

And if the Packers didn't find a trading partner, they'd be stuck paying around $13 million for at least one season. I suppose there are worse things. By signing a lot of front-loaded contracts during the uncapped season, they saved a lot of cap space moving forward.

While it would be nice for the Packers to guarantee themselves compensation for losing Jenkins instead of losing him flat out to free agency, one must also take into account compensatory draft choice the NFL awards for losing more players in free agency than they sign.

With Jenkins slated to sign a very lucrative contract, it's very possible the Packers could get as high as a third-round draft choice in compensation in 2012 for losing Jenkins given they don't sign a free agent of similar value (and with Ted Thompson's history in free agency, that's a very likely scenario).

So in order to tag and trade away Jenkins, it only makes sense the Packers would have to get at least second-round pick in return. Trading him for a third-rounder makes less sense because they could get that in compensation from the NFL, albeit in 2012 instead of 2011.

The transition tag shouldn't be ruled out entirely either. With a predicted value that's much more manageable at around $10.3 million, it's possible the Packers would be willing to pay that Jenkins for at least one more season.

Rules of the transition tag state that the player is still free to negotiate with other teams, although the tagging team has the right to match any such contract. The Packers could put the transition tag on Jenkins, and if he happens to sign with another team for an amount they're not willing to match, no big loss. They could still get a compensatory pick from the NFL for free agent losses anyhow.

There's also the possibility the Packers could use the franchise tag on kicker Mason Crosby too.

While I wouldn't rule the possibility of the Packers tagging Jenkins, I see it as unlikely.

Because of the uncertainty of labor negotiations, because of the risk of not being able to trade him, because of the high franchise number for defensive ends, and because they could still receive a compensatory draft choice for free-agent losses as high as a third rounder in 2012, I don't think the Packers will tag Jenkins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (29) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

sammer's picture

I don't understand why the Packers would place the franchise tag on Crosby. He's a below average kicker - is some other team really going to throw so much money at him that the Packers couldn't match?

It seems like his fair market value would be well below the franchise tag contract. Or am I missing something?

D.D. Driver's picture

Nice work. Since this is technically an uncapped year, does it mean that the Packers (as SB champions) CAN'T sign any free agents from other teams unless or until another team poaches a Packer free agent.

Brian Carriveau's picture

I think the assumption is that the rules will revert to that of the previous CBA, although that's no guarantee.

packersurle's picture

What you are talking was only in the last year of the current CBA. This rule no longer applies.

packeraaron's picture

Correct.

Josh's picture

DD that is a dang good question. It's a failure of the CBA to have franchise tags used to trade players, the intent was not to restrict player movement but to let teams keep great players.

dougie smooth's picture

It's hard to guess about the Jenkins situation until a new CBA is in place. If the roster size and salary cap both go up (and both will go up if they go to 18 games) then that may completely change the answer on what Thompson is willing pay Cullen. And D-line is probably the first position they'd use the extra roster spots for... after the fifth fullback, anyway.

PackersRS's picture

Great work Brian. Maybe your best article so far. Unique, precise, approaching all scenarios...

I thought that the only motive the Packers would have not to tag him would be the financial issue, but you're absolutely money when you bring the very likely possibility of the 3rd round compensatory pick.

I really hope both sides can work out a long-term deal, but I agree. If they can't, and if Jenkins wants, he walks.

A question, though. Teams can't negociate with Jenkins or his representative right now, right? If so, he could garner trade scenarios from other teams, so it's possible that the Packers tag and trade him. But yeah, I know, I'm dreaming here, thinking about loyalty.

I hope that Jenkins is loyal enough to at least act as AK74 and not sign with a rival.

CSS's picture

Not sure an NFC North rival could afford to sign him. Chicago and Detroit would be investing a boat-load of money on DL if they inked Jenkins to the deal he's likely looking for and Minnesota needs to get younger, not older.

Just can't imagine so much payroll on DL, especually for MN and DET, even CHI.

PackersRS's picture

You clearly underestimate the obsession the Minnesota Vikings organization has with former Packers players... with Favre and his 20MI gone, and with Pat Williams being nothing more than a fat guy now, I could definitely see them trying for Cullen Jenkins.

Also, they did make a move for Kampman last year, you know?

CSS's picture

They have Ray Edwards at 26 years of age, will be paying franchise money to Greenway after they Tag him and that line is getting old. Speilman knows they're not a contender next year, they would be seriously incompetent to sign a 30 year old, oft injured (but very impactful) player like Jenkins.

Just wouldn't make sense. Kampann last year, made sense. It was the end of a championship window.

Just don't see it.

PackersRS's picture

"they would be seriously incompetent to sign a 30 year old, oft injured (but very impactful) player like Jenkins."

Are we talking about the Vikings? Last time I checked, we were talking about the Vikings...

Jesse's picture

Also, if Jenkins was tagged, he would be a fool to do anything except for driving right over to Lambeau and sign the $13 million, guaranteed contract as fast as he could. There would be no trade negotiations since the 2011 league can't start until the CBA is completed and a trade could not take place until it the new year begins.

No way they would be willing to pay Jenkins, or anybody besides Rodgers that kind of money for one year.

Ian's picture

Why wouldn't Green Bay accept a third-rounder for Jenkins? You said it yourself, the NFL *might* award a 3rd round compensatory pick, and GB would have to wait until 2012 to get it anyway.

(That having been said, Jenkins is a much better player than Corey Williams. A 2nd rounder shouldn't be hard to corral if that's the market precedent.)

Brian Carriveau's picture

You make a good point. A third-rounder this year is certainly a better than a third-rounder a year from now.

PackersRS's picture

But is a *possible* 3rd rounder this year or better plus a sure $13MI better than a *probable* third rounder next year and the cap space?

I think that's the question the Packers' management should be asking themselves.

packers_freak's picture

My guess is that Cullen has played his last game as a Packer, and that is unfortunate.

With guys like Mike Neal coming back, and Johnny Jolly most likely coming back it doesn't make sense for the Packers to tag him and pay him $13 million.

They played a big part of the season without him this year and did ok, so that probably proved to Thompson that he is expendable.

Thompson will draft another d-lineman or two this year and all will be well. I really like Cullen though and wish he could come back to the Packers, I just don't see it happening.

IdiotFan's picture

Random question -- my understanding is that compensatory picks are based on how well a given free agent plays after leaving. Since Kampman got injured around week 9, does that mean we will get a lower pick for him?

packeraaron's picture

That does play into it. The problem is no one really knows what the formula is - but rumor has it the contract the free agent signs is the biggest factor.

WoodyG's picture

If Mike Neal didn't exist .... Cullen Jenkins was under 30 (say 26 or 27) ..... And Jenkins hadn't missed 17 games in the last 3 seasons due to injury .......

I'd say GB would try to retain him .... Unfortunately, he's probably gone .....

Chris's picture

You don't pay 13 Mil. Dollars for a 3-4 DE, even if he is as good as Jenkins. And every team in the NFL will know that, which will lower any bargaining advantage.
The major advantage in Jenkins: he can play both DE positions, in the 3-4 and 4-3, as he has shown the last few years.
The major disadvantage: he is 30 years old and usually misses a lot of games due to injuries (last 5 years he played 14,16,4,16,11 games).

I have question for everyone though:
I read on ESPN that the Packers had 130 Mil. allocated to player salaries this season, which would have placed them basically at the cap if one had been enforced. What happens when next season is capped again? Do they have to release guys like Jenkins and Hawk straight away because of cap issues?

SpartaChris's picture

Most of this years salary was due to having to sign a bunch of free agents to account for our IRed players. If you think about it, we had 68 players on our roster this year, plus practice squad guys. Most of those players will be gone next season, so no worries.

PackersRS's picture

Not only that, but a lot of the new contracts were structured such as the majority of the cap space would be taken this year, and in the years coming the contract would be "more gentle" towards the cap.

I think only Bishop's contract wasn't made that way.

ppabich's picture

I believe that next year player salaries will be lower, because many contracts were front loaded for the uncapped year.

Chris's picture

Ok, so the bonus money up front is taken into the cap figures? Sounds like a smart plan to use the uncapped year for these kind of extensions.
About the IR replacement players: I am pretty sure that most make the minimum at their position, which would not add too much to the large cap figure of 130 millions.

MarkinMadison's picture

Did we ever get the Jolly thing definitively resolved? I've seen various reports as to whether or not he is bound to the Packers next year. Then there's the question of whether he's been a good boy and can come back to the league. If the answers are "yes, the Packers have him" and "yes, the league will let him," and IF TT thinks that he's o.k. for the locker room, then I think that Jenkins is done. I'm just not sure about Jolly. I do like Neal's potential, but the Packers need more than just Neal, Raji and Pickett. They need one more impact player heading into camp, because the big boys are always getting hurt.

Chris's picture

As far as I can remember he as a restricted free agent at the beginning of last season. The speculation was that missing a whole season his contract would be on hold too and he would be back again as a restricted free agent.
Can anyone confirm this?
In my memory he was a better 3-4 DE than Pickett was this year, especially with his mobility and batting down bals at the line of scrimmage. The only issues are his legal problems. Can a team like Green Bay with that many stand-up guys and great personalities take one guy with those issues and make him a better man? I don't know, but if one team can do it, it's the Packers.

BLACK HAWK's picture

Justin Harrell

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