Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Could the Giants still trade Hakeem Nicks if they franchise him?

The answer to this questions is yes. Jason Fitzgerald covered the steps in his latest podcast from overthecap.com (November 16th, 2013). You can listen to it by clicking on the link below:

The kind of tag that I'm concerning myself with in this hypothetical situation is the non-exclusive franchise tag, the kind which allows the franchise tagged player to negotiate with other teams. Joel Corry published a fine article related to this subject below:

In the article, Joel projects the projected Franchise Tag number for WRs in 2014 to be $11,539,000 (up $1,002,000 from this year's figure of $10,537,000). Here are the rest of the projected franchise tag figures:

Source: Agent's Take: Ten players who could get slapped with a franchise tag - Nov. 19, 2013

Here is a pseudo transcript of the part of Jason's podcast that focuses on the topic of Nicks and trading franchise players:

Trading franchised players in the NFL:

  • You can't trade franchise rights to a player.
  • If you eventually trade such a player, first, he must have the franchise tag placed on him.
  • The earliest that a player have the franchise tag placed on him for the 2014 league year is February 17, 2014 as per this link (click HERE).
  • Second, he counts fully against the salary cap on the first day of the league year after the tender is extended.
  • As per this link, the start of the 2014 league year & free agency is 4 pm ET on March 11th.
  • Nicks can go shopping as soon as March 8th if the franchise tag is placed on him (three days prior to when players can start to sign contracts with other clubs).
  • In this hypothetical scenario, Nicks and his agent Peter Schaffer (also the agent for David Diehl pictured HERE) would find a team that wants him, and is willing to give him the contract that he wants.
  • Nicks and his agent tell the Giants the terms, as per the Giants' request to them to come back to them if they find a club that is willing to give Nicks the contract that he wants.
    • This is just my opinion here, but the Carolina Panthers seem like an ideal fit since they have an obvious need at the position, as well as the cap room to get such a deal done; there is also obviously a link to N. Carolina for Nicks since that is where he is from and went to college.
    • The fact that Panthers G.M. Dave Gettleman has an extensive history with the Giants, since he worked in their front office for years is also helpful to him. 
  • After Schaffer & Nicks go back to the Giants and tell them the terms of the contract that they've got on the table from a team that wants to sign Nicks, the Giants say they can't match that.
  • Nicks's agent says this team won't pay the steep price of two #1 draft picks to sign him away from the Giants.
  • The Giants and that team then can begin to talk compensation if the Giants want to get something for Nicks that isn't as high as the two #1 picks (say a 2 and a 4 as Jason pointed out in his podcast).
  • The Giants and the team agree to compensation terms.
  • Nicks then signs tender w/the Giants at this point.
  • As soon as Nicks is a contracted player in the NFL, he can be traded---not before, as Jason states in the podcast.
  • The Giants then trade him to the team Nicks wants to sign the new contract with for the compensation agreed upon (Jason used the 49ers as an example, which is fine; I think Carolina would make the most sense in this scenario).
  • The Giants immediately regain the cap space for Nicks (about $11.5 million as per Joel Corry's projections linked above) and get the draft picks agreed upon in the trade.
  • The team that acquires Nicks then gets him to hit their books at the franchise tag number.
  • That same day that team can then  agree to new terms for the Nicks contract, even if they are over the cap once they acquire him that same day, which is interesting (Jason brought up this very interesting point, that I wasn't even remotely aware of).
  • The league allows teams in this scenario a small window to reach new terms for the player.
  • There is a provision in the CBA that allows teams that acquire players in situations like this to change contract terms (same day agreement to a lower figure), even if they are over the cap.

      • Giants must have cap room to franchise Nicks first.
      • Nicks finds team.
      • Giants work out trade compensation w/said team (draft picks).
      • Nicks signs tender w/the Giants.
      • Nicks gets traded, and the Giants get the franchise cap space/money off of their books in addition acquiring the agreed upon trade compensation.
      • Nicks immediately hits the acquiring team's books at the franchise rate for WRs.
      • Nicks's new team has small window (same day) to renegotiate lower cap figure for him once they acquire him (even if the team is over the cap once they get him they can do this provided it is the same day).
      • The league allows the acquiring team this leeway, as per the CBA during this small window.
      • Nicks then gets his contract, and the team fits him under their cap.

I e-mailed Jason about this topic, and he was nice enough to take the time to answer my question. I brought up the Matt Cassel trade in 2009 from New England to Kansas City for comparison's sake (click HERE to read about that deal). Cassel led the Patriots to an 11-5 record in 2008 after Tom Brady was knocked out for the season in their first game of the year.

Cassel played well enough to be considered an asset by the Patriots. Scott Pioli left the Patriots' front office to become the G.M. in Kansas City. The Chiefs needed a QB, and Pioli knew what Cassel could do--or so he thought--from his days in New England. They then agreed to terms on a deal for Cassel after the Patriots had slapped the franchise tag on him. I compared this situation to the Nicks situation for many reasons. One of them in this scenario would be the familiarity between the front offices of the Giants and the Panthers. They've already done business with each other this season (see the Jon Beason trade).

Another would be that both the Panthers and Giants will have cap room this off-season to make some moves (see HERE). Thirdly, is that there is a need at the WR position for Carolina. Finally, Nicks is form the area and seems like a natural fit to go there in light of all the other factors that I mentioned. Panthers G.M., formerly the Giants' Pro Personnel Director, is intimately familiar with Nicks's abilities from his time in the Giants' front office.

It is a process, as Jason points out, but it is not one that is necessarily unlikely to happen, especially if the ingredients for a potential agreement and deal are there for all parties involved. Nicks hasn't exactly handled his time in free agency limbo this season well, and hasn't endeared himself to the fans and the team with his lackluster effort on more than a few plays, as well as his mediocre conditioning relative to past years.

A trade like this might be best for all parties involved. The way Jason described it, it is possible. Thanks to him for explaining how the process works. Try listening to his podcast every week as he covers all sorts of interesting topics related to the NFL Salary Cap. He's great about answering questions too, so feel free to contact him via Twitter (@Jason_OTC) or e-mail (jason@overthecap.com). He often covers topics in his podcast that are based on the questions people ask him. Enjoy.