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NFL decides to keep franchise tag window open until March 16 due to unclear labor situation

Related: NFLPA extends players’ voting window for proposed CBA through March 14

Wild Card Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On Monday, the NFLPA announced that its Board of Representatives has decided to extend the voting window for the proposed new collective bargaining agreement. Instead of ending on Thursday, March 12, the vote will now run through Saturday, March 14 — two days after the NFL’s franchise tag period was originally scheduled to come to an end. As a result, the league reacted and will not close the tagging window until Monday, March 16.

The following statement was published about the decision (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter):

The NFLPA and the NFL Management Council have agreed to extend the deadline of the Franchise/Transition Designation period for the 2020 League Year. The designation period will now end at 11:59:59 a.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020. As a reminder, absent an agreement on a new CBA, clubs have both a Franchise and Transition designation available ini the 2020 League Year.

Today’s decision is not the first this year the franchise tag window gets altered. The original plan was to open it on February 25, but ongoing labor negotiations between the league’s owners and player association moved this date as well as the original closing deadline back two days. Now, the window will stay open for an additional 48 hours which in turn makes the upcoming days even more busy for the entire NFL.

A closer look at the upcoming schedule shows this:

  • March 14, 11:59 p.m. ET: Player voting on the proposed CBA closes
  • March 16, 11:59 a.m. ET: Franchise/transition tag window closes
  • March 16, 12:00 p.m. ET: Legal tampering period opens
  • March 18, 4:00 p.m. ET: 2020 league year/free agency begin

While it creates a convoluted calendar next week, the decision to keep the franchise tag window open for an extra two days definitely makes sense.

After all, as pointed out in the statement above, teams are currently allowed to use both a franchise and a transition tag to keep free agents from hitting the open market on March 18. This usage is dependent on the NFL’s “Final League Year” rules, however, and would change in case the new CBA gets ratified over the weekend. If that happens, a team that has used both tags would have to rescind one of them.

As for the New England Patriots, the NFL/NFLPA joint decision to extend the tagging period has little actual impact on the team. But while they will likely not use either one of the tags, they will keep a close eye on other teams to see if players such as tight end Hunter Henry or wide receiver A.J. Green do make it to free agency after all and against current expectations. Other than that, the Patriots will be more interested in the result of the CBA vote.