February 24th is the final day teams can apply the franchise tag to their players, regardless of the validity of it with the current CBA uncertainty. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Pro Bowl tight end Marcedes Lewis are currently in negotiations for a new contract, but the franchise tag is a possibility. Neither side wants to use the franchise tag, but it's possible the Jacksonville Jaguars apply the tag to Marcedes Lewis as a "placeholder" while long-term negotiations continue.
Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union updated the situation late last night in her blog. The Jaguars are hopeful to get a long term contract done, but even if the franchise tag is applied to Marcedes Lewis tomorrow all negotiations will be halted after March 3rd if there is not a new CBA in place.
If the Jaguars do tag Lewis, he will be locked in for the following season, but they will continue trying to negotiate a long-term deal until the end of March 3. That's when the collective bargaining agreement expires and all negotiations will halt. The franchising period began on Feb. 10.
But according to a source the Jaguars are not especially optimistic a deal will get done, and a franchise tag would be insurance.
Both sides would like to avoid Marcedes Lewis being on the franchise tag, but if push comes to shove the Jaguars will have to use the tag to preserve on of their best young players. Lewis did make mention he wants to stay in Jacksonville and get a long term deal finalized. "I feel like I've been a big piece to building where we want to go," he told Tania Ganguli two weeks ago. "I love who I work with, I love the coaches, I love the environment. ... Ultimately I want to be able to be in a good situation and be happy and I want it to be in Jacksonville."
I would imagine the Jaguars would use the exclusive franchise tag on Marcedes Lewis if it comes down to that, which it likely will. The exclusive tag means Lewis cannot negotiate with other teams once free agency is live, whereas the non-exclusive tag means Lewis can negotiate with other teams, but if he signs somewhere else the Jaguars would receive two first round picks as compensation. It's hard to imagine contract talks ramping up over the course of 24-hours to have a deal finished by the tagging deadline tomorrow, but it's possible. Jaguars money man Paul Vance is a smart contract guy, so I trust something will get done.