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NFL teams start to apply franchise and transition tags, but what does it mean?

NFL teams have started applying the use of franchise and transition tags to players today, but what exactly does this mean? It is being reported this morning that just as expected, the Philadelphia Eagles have applied the franchise tage to QB Michael Vick and the New England Patriots have done the same with OL Logan Mankins. It was announced that the New York Jets have applied the tag to LB David Harris.

There are several players which are expected to receive the franchise tag in the future on key players, but this designation only applies to players until the expiration of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. After the CBA expires, then all bets are off for these players and they are not protected when the free agency period will start after a new CBA is agreed to.

So, unless a miracle occurs between now and March 3rd, all of these designations are basically meaningless.