Beginning Thursday (Feb. 10), NFL teams can start using the franchise tag for a 14-day period, ending on Feb. 24. That's according to the league (which is the typical procedure). The Players Association, however, says the franchise tag is irrelevant without a new collective bargaining agreement (the current CBA is set to expire Mar. 4). In fact, NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith called it "meaningless."
"Our position is you can franchise anyone you want by whatever date you want. But if there is no CBA, the franchise tag would be meaningless."
Despite their philosophical differences between the two sides, the teams are still expected to use the franchise tag starting on Thursday, whether it would still be applicable to the 2011 season or not. That means the New England Patriots will be able to use their franchise tag on Logan Mankins, and they're expected to do just that, according to the Herald's Ian Rapoport. Of course, assuming the CBA expires before a resolution is reached between the NFL and NFLPA, then the team's technically won't be able to actually enforce the franchise tag.
With the Patriots seemingly unlikely to give Mankins a long-term deal, the only they could keep the Pro Bowl offensive lineman is by slapping the franchise tag on him, a reality Mankins is not excited to face:
"No, I wouldn't be happy about that, if that's what they chose to do, to be dealt that kind of hand,'' Mankins said following the AFC team's workout this morning on a field at the Pro Bowl's hotel complex. "But we'll see what happens.''
Mankins has been with the Patriots for his entire six-year career, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
For more on the Patriots and the developing Logan Mankins situation, visit Pats Pulpit.