Franchise tag deadline looms for teams, players

USA TODAY Sports

Franchised players have until July 15 to negotiate long-term deals. What does this mean for the players who haven't signed their tender?

As we approach training camp, there are still a few loose ends to tie up in the NFL offseason. The biggest one is the franchise tag deadline coming up on July 15.

Under the CBA terms, players assigned the franchise tag have until July 15 to sign long-term deals with their team. If they are unable to negotiate a new deal before then, the player is required to play under the one-year contract, with a specific salary assigned to his position. This is significant because the franchise tag does not guarantee long-term stability for players, and when the season ends they become unrestricted free agents.

The deadline is also an incentive for teams to lock up players and hopefully reduce their cap hit -- franchise salaries are based on the average of the top-five salaries for each position, so the franchise tender can be a considerable hindrance for cash-strapped teams.

Two players have yet to sign their franchise tenders -- Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady and Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd. The Broncos and Clady have picked up negotiations lately, although talks have been slow. Clady will make $9.828 million in 2013 if he's unable to strike a deal with Denver.

There is more uncertainty with Byrd. Last we heard, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora said there hasn't been any movement in talks. That article was posted on June 18, so you can imagine how much progress has been made since then. The two sides are reportedly $2 million apart. The twist in this story is that Byrd got the "non-exclusive" tag, meaning that he can negotiate with other teams, but the Bills have the right to match any offer he agrees to.

There are a couple of players who signed their tender, but are still trying to work out long-term deals. Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Branden Albert is expected to start talking with the team again next week. Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins have not given any indication they will talk with defensive tackle Randy Starks, who sat out offseason workouts.

The clock is ticking for both teams and players. It could be a mad rush to get 11th-hour deals done before training camps open.

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