ATLANTA GA - JANUARY 15: Kicker Mason Crosby #2 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after Eric Weems #14 of the Atlanta Falcons scored a 10-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the seocnd quarter during their 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Georgia Dome on January 15 2011 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
With CBA panic beginning to take over the league, the Green Bay Packers have wasted little time preparing contracts and negotiations for coaches and players alike. General manager Ted Thompson reached a new deal last week that will see him present through 2015, while coach Mike McCarthy is on the verge of becoming one of the NFL's highest paid coaches.
However, the love bug hasn't bitten everyone on the Packers roster just yet. According to the Green Bay Press Gazette, kicker Mason Crosby and defensive end Cullen Jenkins have received little to no information from the Packers coaching staff, begging a serious question as to when the team intends to slap a franchise tag on either player.
According to the current CBA agreement, teams have up until February 24 to ensure free agent needs are met for a possible 2011 season. Seven players from opposing teams were informed of their franchise tag during the week, as Peyton Manning (Colts), Michael Vick (Eagles), David Harris (Jets), Haloti Ngata (Ravens) , Vincent Jackson (Chargers), Logan Mankins (Patriots) and Tamba Hali (Chiefs) all received good news.
Maybe this is why Crosby's agent is so puzzled by the Packers laid back attitude right now.
"Honestly I’m a little bit surprised they haven’t used the tag, just cover your tracks a little bit," Mike McCartney, Crosby's agent said. "The tender number is not outrageous. I think they have until next, what, Wednesday?"
Perhaps the reason McCartney hasn't heard from the Packers since the end of the season is due to Crosby's inconsistencies as of late. Crosby made just 27 of his 36 attempted field goals in 2009, and while a drastic improvement was seen in 2010, (22 for 28) some room for improvement still stands.
"I think Mason is leaning over the cliff, he’s ready to go be a great kicker and a consistent guy, he just hasn’t had that signature moment yet," McCartney told reporters. "But he hasn’t had many opportunities. He clanked that one potential game winner off the goal post at Washington last season, he hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunities though."
What about Jenkins?
Again, an inconsistency problem continues to hang about. Jenkins missed five games this season due to injury, causing McCarthy to revert to the past tense when discussing his pleasure for coaching one of the teams better defensive players.
"He has been an extremely productive and premier player, especially when he is healthy". stated McCarthy on Wednesday. The Packer coach also went on to say he has "really enjoyed coaching Jenkins" when discussing free agent issues.
Yet at the same time, tender problems also come into play. By the book, Jenkins is realistically playing a line position due to the Packers use of the 3-4, but at the moment he continues to be labeled as a defensive end. Either way you look at it, should the Packers tag him as an end, a cost of $13 million will be the result. But as a tackle, the figure dwindles down to only $11 million.
It is unlikely that either Crosby or Jenkins will receive a free agent tag anytime soon. Mind you, should the CBA expire, the union feels that any tag becomes irrelevant as a result.
Keeping Crosby and Jenkins isn't exactly pivotal to the Packers chance at repeating, especially with much bigger players in need of re-signing. Still, finding a decent kicker these days is no easy chore, especially with the Draft featuring lame ducks from time to time.
McCartney also represents linebacker A.J. Hawk, another player who is need of some attention with a $10 million paycheck hanging in the balance. Hawk has received some indication from the team late last year, but nothing significant.
The CBA is likely to have the last word in this debate for many teams, and the Packers are no exception. Keeping the big time players is key right now, and with the list a mile long at such an uncertain time, Green Bay mustn't become involved in a cat and mouse game with eager players.
Rest assured, we should all find out in a weeks time.