Not to sound dramatic or anything, but the events of this week are going to radically influence the next decade of the National Football League. Why is that? Consider that the NFLPA is currently in the process of voting on new leadership, but there is a much bigger vote hanging in the balance.
There is a new Collective Bargaining Agreement that league owners have approved and left in the hands of the players to decide on, the deadline for that was previously Thursday. This is no longer the case, though. At lunchtime on Monday, the NFLPA announced that they have extended voting on the new CBA by 48 hours. The deadline is now Saturday night.
Here is what all of this means for the Dallas Cowboys
Even without the CBA vote happening by Thursday, the day still remains seismic for the offseason. Thursday, March 12th is the official deadline for NFL teams to place franchise tags on players (it was initially March 10th).
There is now a 48 hour window of uncertainty between Thursday and Saturday as the franchise tag(s) could be significantly altered by a new CBA.
If no new CBA is agreed to...
If the players do not approve the CBA then things will continue forward into 2020 under the current CBA (2020 is the last year of it as it expires after this season). This is important news for the Cowboys because 2020 is regarded as the “Final League Year.”
In the Final League Year of the current CBA all NFL teams are permitted to use both the franchise and transition tags. This means that the Dallas Cowboys could place the franchise tag and transition tag on two different players. That is important given that as of Monday they do not have long-term done with soon-to-be free agents Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones (they are reportedly trying to get Dak done though).
If a new CBA is agreed to...
Should the players approve the new CBA then, like normal offseasons, only one franchise tag would be available to all NFL teams. Given the status of the players we’ve already outlined here, the Cowboys would place that tag on Dak Prescott and, while it feels like Byron Jones is already gone, see the other two hit the open market.
The tampering window for NFL teams officially opens on Monday, March 16th (you can see the full list of important offseason dates right here), but for what it’s worth things these days feel optimistic with Amari Cooper. He even said recently that he wants to be a Cowboy for life.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the new league year will still begin on March 18th, but that the league is considering delaying the franchise tag deadline. That would make sense, perhaps to something like next Monday.
At the very least this situation will theoretically give the Cowboys at least 48 more hours to get long-term deals done with Dak Prescott and/or Amari Cooper (or miraculously Byron Jones). Doing so with even just one would un-complicate the potential puzzle that they’re going to have to solve just a little bit.