Are franchise tags available, or aren't they?

Roger Goodell claims teams can use their franchise tags come February 10th, but is that true?

The NFL released a statement today saying that teams would be able to excercise their franchise tags beginning on February 10th. Steve Reed quickly pondered over Twitter than DeAngelo Williams would likely receiver the tag, but low and behold the NFLPA has other thoughts on the matter.

One hour ago the union sent a message to agents telling them that this was spurious given that the wording of this CBA is thus: 

'each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or RFA] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement'

It's the union's claim that as the owners plan to have a lockout that 2011 does not count as a 'season' under the agreement and therefore the franchise tag is not applicable. From where I sit it seems the union is right on the money with their claim. Whether I agree in the methodology or not, it does appear from the wording of the current CBA that the tag would not apply as there are no current plans for an upcoming season. 

After the jump we'll explore what would occur if there are franchise tags... after the jump

I agree with Steve Reed's belief that DeAngelo Williams would be the most likely recipient of the tag, should it be available. However, the most interesting aspect is that of potential trades involving tagged players.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as the CBA doesn't expire until March 1st and the NFL are claiming that tags can be applied on February 10th you could see a speight of players being tagged and traded before the CBA expires, provided they sign their tenders before the CBA expires. The motivation for teams is simple: trade players and get some value before the draft, the motivation for players is clear too- try and sign an extension under the current CBA.

While there would be no free agency come March 1st, there is no prevision that limits teams from signing players to contract extensions before that deadline. Therefore, a player could be tagged, traded and sign long term before March 1st. Is it convoluted? Absolutely. Unlikely? Indubitably... but possible? Yes, I think so.

What do you think CSR community? Is my reasoning correct or is there a by-law I've overlooked? 

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