Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC North [Print without images]

Monday, February 20, 2012
BBAO: Franchise tag window opens

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We're Black and Blue All Over:

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is ready for Franchise Monday! Yes, today is the first day that NFL teams can tag franchise players, a designation that requires premium compensation for another team -- and allows for right of first refusal -- to acquire them via free agency. The window extends through March 5, and as you know, we spent much of last week discussing the various possibilities for the NFC North.

Two division players, Chicago Bears tailback Matt Forte and Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, have already acknowledged they might not react well if franchised. Avril's comments came over the weekend while speaking to several Detroit-area reporters.

I know a lot of you are worked up about his potential reaction, but all Avril really said was that an offseason/training camp holdout was one of several potential scenarios if he is franchised. It wasn't a threat as much as it was an acknowledgement of reality. Here's exactly how he put it: "There's a lot of different possibilities, and that's one of the possibilities -- not showing up. But we don't know. That's not the plan, obviously. But there's a lot of different possibilities, and that's definitely one of them."

Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported over the weekend that the Lions had decided to use the franchise tag if they can't get Avril signed to a long-term extension before the March 5 deadline. That would take some substantial salary-cap maneuvering, but as we've discussed many times, there is always a way to get a single move accomplished under the salary cap if you're willing to accept sacrifices in other areas.

Continuing around the NFC North: