FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Less than six hours remain until the current NFL collective bargaining expires and the new league year commences — without a salary cap for the first time since 1993. As talks between the NFL owners and the players’ union continue to be at a stalemate, Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has been preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.
“Our mindset is to carry on and be prepared and go from there,” Tannenbaum told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week. “There’s uncertainty, but the only thing we can control is preparation, and we feel good that we’ll be ready.”
And in preparation for an uncapped off-season and with the state of the regular season still in limbo, Tannenbaum placed tenders on nine of his impending free agents — all with at least four years of NFL service. Placing tenders on players who are not necessarily restricted free agents is just one of the consequences of the uncertainty regarding the current labor uncertainty. This is just a cautious move by Tannenbaum to insure the protection of his team.
(*Placing tenders on impending free agents can be related to taking out insurance on your possessions. Player is free to accept offers from other teams, while original team retains the right to match said offer and keep player. If original team chooses not to pursue player, the original team will receive the compensatory draft picks the player was previously labeled from the new team.)
WR Santonio Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie received the highest tenders (1st and 3rd round), while KR/WR/ATH Brad Smith was labeled a second round tender. Four players received original round tenders: QB Kellen Clemens (third), S Eric Smith (third), CB Drew Coleman (sixth, and PK Nick Folk (sixth).
Undrafted free agents S James Ihedigbo and OL Robert Turner were given right-of-first-refusal tenders, which do not receive draft pick compensation. If these players were to get offers from other teams, the Jets have the right to refuse to match another team’s offer.
If the unrestricted free agency level reverts back to four years, as opposed to the current six years of service, and a new CBA is reached, these moves will be considered null in void. But as the dark cloud of uncertainty continues to loom heavily over the NFL, teams have to look out for the best interest of their team.
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