Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Feb 2014

MMQB: NFL's Wake-Up Calls

PK talks more fallout from Sam, the Wells Report, and, for some reason, T.J. Oshie.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 17 Feb 2014

36 comments, Last at 23 Feb 2014, 5:58pm by LionInAZ


by justanothersteve :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 3:19pm

I've mostly stopped reading PK. I admit his human interest stories can be very compelling and I usually at least skimmed his columns during the season. But it's not because he's gotten too boring and predictable. I stopped reading is that the website may be the worst designed popular site ever.

Just navigating the MMQB site is a nightmare. Not one among Firefox, Chrome, and even IE at work load this hypertext coding disaster and I think that's a good thing. I'm off work today and went to read his column. I quit because I'm tired of all the embedded crap, not to mention the giant all-caps headlines and other poor design choices.

Is PK oblivious to this? Does he really think this makes his site relevant and cool? Or is this being pushed on PK from SI management? If the idea was to improve American work productivity on Mondays during the football season, the website is probably a success. I doubt that was the intent.

by Sixknots :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 3:47pm

Agreed, that site is awful. I have IE and it won't load past the 1st page.

formerly BigWoody, but it doesn't work without the (not verified).

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 10:50pm

Using IE 11, active X disabled, I have no problems. The site is using a lot of java script so that could be the problem too.

by Sixknots :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 6:07pm

Yeah, I'm still poopin' along on IE 8 and XP but that's all going to be upgraded next month.

formerly BigWoody, but it doesn't work without the (not verified).

by Alexander :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 3:24pm

God, Peter King is so ignorant:

"2. I think I really hope one team—the Saints or Ravens—challenges the idiotic tight end franchise-tag designation, a $4.8 million difference between the tight end and wide receiver positions. My feeling on this is simple: If Jimmy Graham and Dennis Pitta are drafted as tight ends and used as tight ends and voted to the Pro Bowl as tight ends, then their team’s salary caps should not be punished by having them shown as wide receivers. Being placed in the slot or split wide on multiple occasions per game should not change their designation."

I hope the Bears start drafting a lot of "long snappers" for their offensive line.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 3:52pm

There's an easy solution to this problem: Just group positions together for the franchise tag. On offense:

QB, K, P

On defense:


Just like that, you don't have to worry about a guy being designated at a different position than the one he plays (except possibly 3-4 OLB, but that's a smaller problem), plus you won't have teams using the franchise tag on players who are not franchise players (like kickers or guards).

by Alexander :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 4:15pm

That is probably decent, particularly because the system is the Average of the top 5 at a "position" correct?

I think the best solution is to eliminate the franchise tag...but...

by Theo :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 7:14pm

Is it really that hard to evaluate the season of all franchise tagged players to see what the role on their field was?
How many players are we talking about - max 32 right. And how many fall in between positions on a yearly basis? 2?
So how hard is it to let an independent board look into this?
If the team and the players know that the NFL can look into situations like these - you can get rid of a lot of mutual frustration.

by Dennis :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 9:39pm

The problem with this from the teams' perspective is it will increase the required salaries because there are more players in each grouping. For example, the average of the top five safeties is probably less than the average of the top five of the group of safeties and cornerbacks.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 9:48pm

Yes it is unfavorable to teams, but the idea is to reduce the use of the franchise tag to only the players who really need it and not just allow teams to tag any free agent with impunity. If you're going to tag a guy, he's going to get paid so he better be worth it. It's a way to reduce teams' use of the tag without eliminating it entirely.

by Dennis :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 11:39pm

Maybe I've missed something, but why do we want to reduce the use of the tag?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:03am

Because we generally favor the principal that an expired contract is just that?

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 9:00pm

I've been opposed to the franchise tag ever since a team used it on a kicker. The point of the franchise tag is to give teams a tool to prevent losing a key free agent. Using it on a kicker is abuse. No kicker is critical to his team's future success.

by PaddyPat :: Thu, 02/20/2014 - 5:33am

Generally in agreement, but I want to point out that the franchise tag on Vinatieri was hardly abuse. He was deemed critical to his team's success.

by Theo :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 7:27pm

"My feeling on this is simple"
Yes, Peter, a bit too simple.
"drafted as tight ends" what does this even matter? Not one thing. I know one defensive tackle and he's was playing runningback in college.
"and used as tight ends" or was he? Does anyone have the percentages?
"and voted to the Pro Bowl as tight ends" Oh just shut the hell up.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 9:10am

Jason Peters was drafted as a TE. He's now one of the top LT's in the league. Shouldn't the Eagles only have to pay him TE money because of this? I know Lurie would LOVE that!

by the K :: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 5:32am

Peters was actually undrafted, but your point stands. He was a TE who they bulked up and moved to tackle.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:50pm

Well, PK's assumptions fail right off the bat. Jimmy Graham wasn't "used as a tight end" for most of the season, as he was split out wide on a vast majority of his snaps. I forget where I saw the numbers, but I recall it being in excess of 80%.

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 7:57am

How many H-backs ever line up next to the tackle? Most probably spend less time next to the tackle than Graham. H-backs usually line up in the backfield, yet they are listed as TE on the roster. Shouldn't they be listed as RB on the roster instead? They may not carry the ball much, if ever. But FBs don't either (on the few rosters that still carry a FB).

by Jimmy :: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 10:18am

Tight End: an eligible receiver aligned on the line of scrimmage tight to the formation.

Split End: an eligible receiver aligned on the line of scrimmage split from the formation.

Now split ends are commonly lumped in with wide receivers but that doesn't change the fact that Graham played 80% of his snaps as a split end. It isn't his fault the Saints used him that way and there is no rule that defines tight ends as players who line up all over the formation. If the Saints wanted to tag him as a TE they should have played him there.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 5:57pm

The Franchise tag is just another way the NFLPA let the players down... Pretty much everyone except for franchise QBs have seen their pay and security decline.

The only positive thing it did was make rookie contracts more reasonable.

by CBPodge :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 7:07pm

For busts in the top 10. But I'd say the new CBA hugely let down all the incoming rookies. The 5th year option for 1st round picks is big, and not being allowed to renegotiate a contract for 3 years is a bit of a killer IMO.

by andrew :: Mon, 02/17/2014 - 8:13pm

A simple fix is to not only have it be the average pay of the top 5 players at the position... but also the average duration of the same, at player's option to void, otherwise guaranteed.

by Alternator :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 6:16am

I think a free pony for every little girl in America would be nice, too, and would be a simple fix for little girls with sore feet.

The franchise tag is meant to let a team hang on to a single player they value heavily, at a fairly high price tag to discourage abuse. Other than punters/kickers, I can't really see anybody beyond the TE/WR or LB/DE mixtures that end up hosed, and those are really just situations that just need to be sorted out--they aren't inherently problematic once a method to handle them is in settled upon.

Any fix that doesn't focus on the reality of why the franchise tag exists is as unreasonable and ridiculous as my pony suggestion.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:06am

You do understand that you don't have an objective definition of "hosed", don't you?

by Alexander :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 11:45am

Woah woah, everyone who gets the franchise tag is, by definition, getting hosed.

The team is giving them less money, and less guaranteed than the open market would pay, or else they wouldnt use the tag! Its not like the Bears are going to use it on Devin Hester, no they are going to hit Alshon Jeffery with it in a few years so he doesnt get 5 years guaranteed money.

by Scott C :: Sun, 02/23/2014 - 4:53am

I disagree. Empirical evidence is that teams sometimes spend more money on a player with the FT than the player would get in FA.

For example, the Chargers used it on Darren Sproles, who, if I recall correctly, got about $8M for 1 year before going to the Saints, for less per year. They had cap room, and spent it on a one year rental rather than sign a long term contract. Sproles would not have gotten anywhere near 8M per year on the free market that year. He went from what most teams and the public thought of as an interesting 3rd down back to a supremely good one only _after_ he went to the saints in Reggie Bush's place and set records.

Now, what he could have gotten was a longer term contract with more security, so it depends on what your definition of "screwed" is.

The FT allows the team to unilaterally take an option, if they so choose, for a one year high pay contract on a player. This is obviously in their best interest (or what they think is in their interest), but it is not necessarily against the player's interest. Its not a zero sum game, the move can be in both of their best interest, or bad for both.

by Will Allen :: Sun, 02/23/2014 - 12:40pm

Isn't it the case that, when it comes to determining whether the player is getting "screwed" by the franchise tag, it is the player's definition of "screwed", with regard to what he would prefer, that is determinative?

I understand the NFLPA has it's priorities, with regard to what is the most important thing to obtain in CBA negotiations, but giving up the concept that an expired contract is an expired contract is a gigantic concession, which prevents individual players from getting what they think is most important to them. In other words, individual players get screwed.

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 02/23/2014 - 5:58pm

I suspect the NFLPA made the rational decision that getting concessions on the revenue split, long-term benefits, and the rookie salary cap were much more important than a protracted struggle over the tag, which affects - at most- 32 players each year out of nearly 1700. Thirty-two players who will get bigger than average paychecks, regardless.

The franchise tag will continue until the owners figure out a more devious way to screw the players, or the government rules it illegal. My opinion is that the RFA designation hurts more players than the franchise tag.

by JonFrum :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 3:28pm

The NFLPA really screwed the pooch on the franchise tag. It was originally sold as a way to protect your 'franchise player' for a year while you bargained with him. Now, kickers get 'franchised.' Your franchise player should always be your highest paid player - by definition, no?

So how's this - any player franchised for one year must be signed to the team's highest contract. Since QBs are always the highest paid player on the team, you could split it to offence and defense. That way, the franchise tag goes away for tight ends and safeties - never mind kickers. That would be a true franchise tag, not an excuse to abuse a player for a year.

by MJK :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 5:16pm

QB's aren't always the highest paid players on the teams...what if you have a late round find (Tom Brady, Russel Wilson) on their rookie deal, or a free agent in a show-me mode (Kurt Warner), or just a terrible QB (anyone Minnesota has started in the past two years).

This would give such teams an unfair edge. I do like the idea, though.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 6:33pm

Julius Peppers was the highest paid player on the Bears last year.

by Guido Merkens :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:51pm

The Bears don't really count, as historically they have never had a franchise QB.

by tuluse :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:52pm

This is the Bears with Jay Cutler.

I bet only 15 or so QBs are the highest paid players on their teams.

by Jerry :: Tue, 02/18/2014 - 7:30pm

IIRC, getting rid of the franchise tag was one of the NFLPA's goals in the last negotiation, but they relented on it in exchange for something else. (I've forgotten if there's still a transition tag; the union may have made progress there.)

by justanothersteve :: Wed, 02/19/2014 - 7:51am

The transition tag still exists. Other teams can sign a player and the player's current team has the right to match the contract. If the team doesn't match, they get nothing for the player. If the player doesn't get an offer, the player gets something like the average of the top 10 at that position for a year. I can't remember if this is what it used to be.