NFL opens winter with expensive game of tag

Ian Taylor

Monday, for the NFL, was a day of jubilance, a start to the whirlwind that is the offseason and a joyous occasion for players and general managers as the billion-dollar game begins.

To open the show, the NFL does its best rendition of a game we have all played and one that resembles the on-field action of Sunday afternoons, but this version has some extra cash on the line.

Tag is the game, but this is not the backyard game we all came to know and love; no, this is the process of player rights protection, and the opportunity of a lifetime for the men asked to sign on the dotted line as the tag guarantees a salary par with average of the top five at each respective position.

This year the league features a number of upper echelon names set to hit the free agent market —names such as Dez Bryant, Randall Cobb, Justin Huston, Demaryius Thomas and Ndamukong

Suh that are not only dominate the highlight reel, but also the locker rooms for their teams. On Monday, those teams had to decide how valuable they really are.

Available since the beginning of free agency in 1993, the franchise tag is one of many tools for NFL teams.

It was created to equal the playing field, an area the NFL has held in high regard for years, evident from the parody that has turned football into the number one sport in the country.

But with a salary cap in place and the upgrade of intelligence across organizations, I question whether or not the franchise tag has worn out its welcome.

Over the last three years the number of player under such contracts has dropped from 21 (2012) to eight (2013) to four (2014), a steady decline based upon the gigantic price that comes along with the tag, say $18.5 for a quarterback or $13.2 million for your favorite linebacker this year.

It seems that the tag is impeding progress keeping the NFL from seeing the dramatic change year after year that allows every team to be competitive, and for that reason, I think it is time to go.

Let the organizations do what they do, wheel and deal themselves into contention, and let the players sort it out.

Then, and only then, can we see the truest organizational competition from the top to the bottom. Well, everyone except for the ball boys responsible for inflation.