The Cardinals, as everyone knew would happen for a while, tagged defensive end Calais Campbell Friday amidst the flood of players across the league getting the tag.
So what’s next?
At this point, it’s impossible to tell where the two sides are in their contract talks. Campbell’s agent hasn’t been talking specifics to the media and general manager Rod Graves has only said that he expects a resolution to come soon. In theory, a new deal for Campbell could still come over the next few days or before free agency starting March 13. The tag is a mechanism to buy more time to get that deal. The deadline was Monday, which is why it came now. If teams could have waited until March 13 to put on the tag, Campbell wouldn’t have it yet.
With the non-exclusive tag, Campbell can solicit offers from other teams as long as he has yet to sign his tender with the Cards. I’m not sure what his plans are on that. Usually other teams don’t want to delve into a tag offer sheet, most of all because signing the guy means it costs two first-round draft picks, and as good as Campbell is, I don’t see any way another team would give up a pair of first-rounders for him. Then there is the reality (which is in play for restricted free agent offer sheets) that all the new team is doing is negotiating a new deal for the player’s current team, since the current team — in this case, the Cards — can match whatever offer is made.
As soon as Campbell signs his tag tender with the Cards, which would guarantee a 2012 salary expected to be around $11 million, he can’t get offers from other teams any more.
All this means is that a) Campbell will be a Cardinal in 2012 and b) the two sides will continue to try to get a long-term deal done. There have been concerns from fans about the last time the Cards used the tag and how that ended, which was the 2008 and 2009 tagging of linebacker Karlos Dansby. He eventually fled as a free agent, never getting a long-term deal done. In Dansby’s case, the team and his then-agent thought they had a deal done at one point, only to have Dansby nix it. Dansby then changed agents and landed in Miami. At the time, the Cards felt Dansby had a worth and he thought it was more, and the Cards weren’t going to break the bank. You can argue both sides of whether that was the right move.
In this case, the Cards know Campbell is a rising star, just 25 and good both on the field and in the locker room. There are things in play here that no one — other than Graves and Campbell agent Ben Dogra — knows for sure the impact. With a new TV deal coming in a couple of years, and the subsequent rise in cap space, how much is that influencing what Campbell wants? At what comps are the Cards putting Campbell’s value, i.e., what defensive ends are they comparing him to? Impossible to know for sure.
I will reiterate what I think. I think a deal gets done this offseason (Campbell must have a new pact in place by July 16 or play 2012 under the tag deal.) How long it takes, I don’t know.
Tags: Calais Campbell, franchise tag
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