Latest series of links on Woodley's situation
Ed. B. of the P-G explains that until there is a new CBA Woodley's current base salary cannot increase by more than 30% annually in a new deal
YOU: The story pre=season was that a new contract with Woodley couldn't be worked out because there was a restriction on the amount of the increase over his current contract and the team wouldn't pay enough of a bonus to make up the difference. Now that the season is over, is there still a restriction on the amount of salary in the contract? (Before the cba expires).
ME: Thank you for remembering that. Yes, the 30 percent rule still applies so if they were to sign Woodley, they would have to give him a massive signing bonus and that ain’t happening.
So the obvious short term answer is franchise Woodley? That could be a problem.
This was in PFT last summer
The final answer depends on the interpretation of Article XX, Section 1 of the current CBA. - Here’s what it potentially means: Since the CBA doesn’t expire until March 2011 and since the deadline for designating franchise players expires in February 2011, before the CBA ends, the franchise designation may be used for the 2011 season.
The key language, arguably capable of multiple interpretations, is this: “[E]ach Club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free agent as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement.” (Emphasis added.)
The league, which declined to provide its position on this matter beyond merely citing Article XX, Section 1 as the operative clause, would likely argue that, because the deadline for use of the tag in 2011 applies “during the term of this Agreement,” franchise tags are available for 2011. The union, which has not yet responded to our request for its own position regarding this issue, likely would claim that the qualifier “each season” makes the franchise tag inapplicable during 2011, since 2011 is not a season that falls within the “term of this Agreement.”
Since that article ran last summer and CBA negotiations have gone nowhere, the union aparently now says with no new CBA and franchise tag designation in 2011 is void
This from Don Banks at SI.com today in his run down of the most pressing offseason issue for each AFC team
Come this year, the Patriots are expected to franchise [All Pro guard Logan] Mankins any day now, an outcome he said he would not welcome in the least. The league says teams have the right to franchise players even if there's no new CBA, but the union disagrees and says the tag will be meaningless if owners lock out players. A guy as unhappy as Mankins might just try to challenge the franchise tag in court, and could have a decent shot at earning his free agency that way. Stay tuned. My sense is this can't possibly end well.
Which leads to an analysis by Banks on the Woodley situation
In the case of LaMarr Woodley, will the Steelers follow their pattern of letting star linebackers go in free agency?
More than almost any other team in the league, the Steelers are hoping the NFL is in the right about being able to apply those franchise tags in this season of labor uncertainty. Because Pittsburgh will definitely use its tag on Woodley, their sack-happy outside linebacker, if that's the only way to keep him off the open market.
This isn't Joey Porter, Chad Brown, Hardy Nickerson or Larry Foote we're talking about. Woodley is only 26 and he's an ultra-productive player whose 12 sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions in 2010 would make him an extremely rich man if he were to become a free agent and open up the bidding. But during Super Bowl week, Woodley made it sound like he knows the grass isn't greener elsewhere, even saying he wouldn't mind having the franchise label applied (horrors!) and earning the median salary of the top five linebackers in the league (about $10 million in 2011). The security of a long-term deal, he reasoned, would come soon enough.
That's the kind of player the Steelers aren't about to let get away.
This CBA situation is a mess that appears to just keep getting worse