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The NFL may be hellbent on letting labor strife dominate this offseason and possibly delay the next season, but the Jets are still taking care of mundane tasks like making sure that they'll have a team whenever the league decides to go back to focusing on football.
They announced Tuesday that they will use their franchise player tag on linebacker David Harris. That guarantees Harris a one-year salary worth the average of the top five linebacker salaries, which should be right around $10 million. That doesn't preclude signing Harris to a long-term contract at some point in the future, but it does mean that the Jets will have their talented defensive leader back for his fifth NFL season.
Well, it should mean that. The NFLPA has been saying that franchise tags are meaningless once the CBA runs out on March 4th, although it isn't believed to be a point of contention going forward and they haven't actually come up with any legal challenge to the tag. That could come, however, since it seems clear that the two sides are digging in for a protracted battle over how to split up the billions of dollars that fall at their feet every year.
The NFL has upped things a bit by filing a suit with the National Labor Review Board accusing the union of bargaining in bad faith. Actually, they are trying to bar the players from decertifying the union, something that would stop the league, the same league that walked away from the negotiating table last week, from enacting a lockout.
Since both sides are more inclined to manuever around to find ways to extend, rather than end, the impasse, it's a good bet we'll be seeing much more of it.
In light of all that, the tag given to Harris is good for a laugh. The league has such a big problem with the current way of doing business that Woody Johnson and his fellow owners are in a hurry to use their franchise tags before they lose the chance. There are no serious problems with the state of affairs, yet this fight is going to happen anyway and wind up getting in the way of simply enjoying the sport.
What that means for the Jets is that it is going to be quite a long while until we have any kind of idea what their roster looks like for next season. Free agents like Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes will hang in limbo until a new collective bargaining agreement gets signed. That largely means that the Jets, even with a strong core of players signed for the long-term, will be in limbo as well.
That makes them exactly like every other team in the NFL, although that's small comfort to anyone still feeling the burn of a second straight year that ended close enough to taste the Super Bowl.