View Full Version : Understanding the transition tag

02-24-2008, 11:52 AM
For those of you who, like me, were a bit clueless, this is an excellent article.


Understanding the ‘transition’ tag
Thursday, February 21, 2008



Of all of the mechanisms contained in the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement pertaining to the movement of free agents, the transition tag might be the most misunderstood.

Since the Steelers placed the transition tag on offensive tackle Max Starks on Feb. 20, this is a good time to explain its significance.

The Steelers’ move guarantees them nothing more than the opportunity to match whatever offer Starks is certain to receive once the free agent signing period opens.

That the transition tag guarantees the player a one-year salary equal to the average of the 10 highest-paid individuals at his position is a moot point in this instance, because that only kicks in if the player receives no other offers during the signing period that begins on Feb. 29 and doesn’t end until July 22.

Starks, who will be entering his fifth NFL season, is not expected to have that problem, especially since he’s a 26-year-old with 34 career starts at right tackle, including all 20 games in 2005 when the Steelers won Super Bowl XL, with another four starts at left tackle for an injured Marvel Smith in 2008. Starks played well enough in those games that the impact of Smith’s injury became a non-issue.

Still, in accordance with the rules, the Steelers would have to pay Starks a salary of $6.895 million for the 2008 season in the event he does not present them with an offer sheet during a signing period that lasts almost five full months.

Neither Starks nor the Steelers would be particularly happy going the one-year, $6.895 million route, because the team would rather have a lower cap number than that for the 2008 season, and Starks would rather have the security of a long-term deal in place. Plus, it’s believed that the long-term deals Starks figures to command would include a signing bonus of at least $6.895 million.

The most likely scenario in this case is Starks will receive an offer from another team that he finds acceptable, and then after the offers is presented to the Steelers they will have seven days to match it or lose Starks without any compensation.

Using the transition tag buys the Steelers some time to figure out where they see Starks fitting in on their roster and then to determine how much salary they believe should be allocated for a player in that role. If it turns out that their determination falls in line with what the open market decrees, then they can match the offer and keep Starks.

And since the transition tag doesn’t inhibit other teams from pursuing Starks by requiring them to pay a price in compensation, there is little chance of the player becoming disgruntled as sometimes happens when a team uses the franchise tag.

Reports implying that the Steelers have taken a significant step to make sure Starks remains with the team through the 2008 season are inaccurate. The transition tag does not restrict player movement; its primary purpose is to allow the player’s old team to buy the time it needs to assess the situation and make its own decision on whether to keep the player or let him go to another team.

02-24-2008, 12:02 PM
This is a move to sure up the offensive regardless of what that article says. If the team didn't want to keep Max around they wouldn't have offered the deal and could have just as easily let him walk. This proves the team wants to have around and have enough time to try and work out a long term deal.

That is good info Tee, thanks for the 411. The transition isn't something you hear too much about normally.

02-24-2008, 12:02 PM
:bigthumb: Thanks Tee!

02-24-2008, 12:04 PM
thats a very good explanation thanks for sharing. I was pretty much clueless as well.

02-24-2008, 12:16 PM
Good info T!! :yellowthumb:

02-24-2008, 12:30 PM
No prob guys, I saw it on steelers.com and thought it was good info. I assumed we had Starks shored up by smacking him with the transition tag, guess not.

02-24-2008, 03:29 PM
I could be completely wrong on this but to be honest I don't see any team offering Starks that much for one year so that gives us an advantage right off the bat that we atleast believe in him enough to put this tag on him which proves we are interested in a long term deal...which Colbert has already been quoted as saying that he wants to get done and Max also stating he wants to stay. It may not be a rock solid done deal but I really don't think Max is going anywhere this year but here.

02-24-2008, 04:51 PM
Made it more clear for me.

K Train
02-24-2008, 06:25 PM
so basically another team could offer starks a decent offer, not a great one but one he could live with and put in the contract that if he plays more than 6 games in PA he can get a $100 million dollar bonus and theres noting the steelers can do

02-24-2008, 07:00 PM
so basically another team could offer starks a decent offer, not a great one but one he could live with and put in the contract that if he plays more than 6 games in PA he can get a $100 million dollar bonus and theres noting the steelers can do

I am pretty sure after the whole Hutchinson and Burleson deal, the NFL put an end to that.

02-24-2008, 09:15 PM
I am pretty sure after the whole Hutchinson and Burleson deal, the NFL put an end to that.
From what I've been reading, after the Vikings and Seahawks did their thing with the "poison pill", Tagliabue tried to get rid of it.....he failed. Its still alive and kicking in the NFL, whether anyone uses it or not....who knows.

K Train
02-24-2008, 09:18 PM
i think it makes things interesting lol

02-24-2008, 09:20 PM
I thought it was pretty creative by the Hawks and Vikes, nobody seen it coming :lol:

02-24-2008, 09:34 PM
The only way to get rid of the "poison pill" is to 1. Wait until the next labor agreement is discussed. or 2. All NFL owners must "unofficially" agree not to use it.

According to PFT though its already in the CBA.

Per Article XXIII, Section 1 of the amended CBA: "No Club . . . shall enter into any agreement, express or implied, with the NFL or any other Club . . . to restrict or limit individual Club decision-making . . . concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to any player for inclusion, or included, in a player contract."I think even though it is creative and kind of funny what teams will do to get a player, a lot of teams won't do it anymore because of retaliation from the 2nd team. Evil minds can work wonders when they get screwed out of a player. Push comes to shove, the Hutchinson-Burleson deal would look like a picnic compared to what some other owners could come up with.

02-24-2008, 10:53 PM
This has the potential to be very interesting but most teams, atleast not that Im aware of, are into the poison pill scenario that much because what goes around comes around sooner or later. Plus it's not like Starks is the next Tony Boselli or anything, the dude is a 3rd round draft pick who played well 2 years ago and got benched midway through the season only to get his job back once the injuries started piling up. Unless some team comes through for crazy money that Starks just can't pass up he'll be back for us.