NFL News: The Franchise Tag Is Open For Business, Or Is It?

The NFL still hasn't set the franchise tag numbers for the 2011 season, if it even takes place, according to Todd Archer. Last week, the league gave each team permission to begin using the franchise and transition tags, but the NFLPA threatened to go to court over their use without an active collective bargaining agreement. It is just another step in the escalating face-off between the two parties as we prepare for a knock down drag out fight this off-season. 

Mac's Football Blog breaks down the expected franchise tag amounts. It includes an interesting recap of who ranks as the 5 top paid players at each position, it doesn't necessarily indicate the best at the spot. Looking at the holes Dallas most needs to fill, here are the expected amounts for those positions, with the line of thinking of what might prevent targets from hitting the open market.

Make the jump...

Offensive Line

2010 Official F/T Tenders: $10.731 million (F); $9.142M (T)
2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $10.51M
2011 Projected Transition Tender: $9.311M

Defensive Tackles

2010 Official F/T Tenders: $7.003 million (F); $6.353M (T)
2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $12.381M
2011 Projected Transition Tender: $9.405M

Safeties

2010 Official F/T Tenders: $6.455 million (F); $6.011M (T)
2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $9.625M
2011 Projected Transition Tender: $8.202M

Cornerbacks

2010 Official F/T Tenders: $9.566 million (F); $8.056M (T)
2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $14.354M
2011 Projected Transition Tender: $11.817M

Linebackers

2010 F/T Official Tenders: $9.68 million (F); $8.373M (T)
2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $10.191M
2011 Projected Transition Tender: $8.943M

For those of you hoping to add UFA LG Logan Mankins to the Cowboys offensive line, it appears you may need to read up on some alternate options. Good thing for you O.C.C. wrote this piece that breaks down the under-the-radar free agent guard prospects. According to bostonherald.com, the Patriots are planning to franchise tag Mankins and continue negotiations on a long term deal.This would be the second consecutive year that Mankins is franchised. Last season, he waited until the last possible date to report and still get credit for a full year of service.

Potential Dallas free agent target, Miami Dolphins 3-4 NT Paul Soliai, may not receive the tag from the club, according to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero.

Another fantasy wishlist grab, Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, is expected to get the franchise tag himself, according to the Baltimore Sun. The Chief's Tamba Hali, Chargers WR Vincent Jackson  , and Pittsburgh Steelers OLB Lamar Woodley are other stars reported to be receiving the tag treatment.

Todd Archer brings up an interesting point in his article, that if the free agent system in use last year (after the CBA expired) stays in place, Free is a restricted free agent. The Cowboys could then place the first and third round tender on him, as they did with Miles Austin last off-season.

If the old free agency system, or something similar, is reinstated with the next CBA, Free would be an unrestricted free agent, and the Cowboys may look to use the designation for the first time since Ken Hamlin in 2008.

Be on the lookout for rabblerousr's piece later today on Doug Free's situation, and how Dallas might address it.

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