On Friday, the Giants designated Brandon Jacobs as their franchise player, virtually ensuring that the free agent running back will be with the team in 2009.
The NFL's collective bargaining agreement permits each team to designate one of its free agents (restricted or unrestricted) as a franchise player each season. Under the terms of the CBA, that player receives a one-year tender for the average of the five largest salaries at his position the previous season. In 2008, the NFL's five highest-paid running backs earned an average of $6.6 million.
The designation does not preclude the Giants or any other team from negotiating a multi-year contract when the free agency period begins on February 27th. Indeed, the Giants hope to reach such an agreement with Jacobs, their two-time 1,000-yard rusher and the catalyst behind their NFL-leading rushing attack. Should another team offer Jacobs a contract, the Giants have a right to match that contract or would recei ve two first-round draft choices as compensation from that team.
The two-week period for designating franchise players ends Thursday and the Giants did not want it to expire without making it far more difficult for another team to sign Jacobs.
"With the deadline approaching it was the right business thing to do at this point, although we are hopeful to get a longer term deal hammered out in the near future," general manager Jerry Reese said. "I did speak to Brandon and we had a very good conversation today."
"I never felt Brandon would be anything but a New York Giant," Coach Tom Coughlin said. "There isn't any question that when you talk about being a physical football team, he gives you that physical edge as a runner, a pass protector or catching the ball coming out of the backfield. He's a valuable, valuable part of our team and of the philosophy and the concept by which we play. It's important for our team going forward that he's a Giant."
Jacobs believes the Giants' decision to designate him a franchise player will help the two sides come to an agreement on a multi-year contract.
"They don't want to let me go and it just buys more time to get a deal done," Jacobs said. "A deal is going to be done and I am confident in that fact that a deal is going to be done. They just didn't want to let me hit the market to see what else is out there. They want me in and it is fine with me, because I would rather be here. It is another reason why I don't really have a problem with it. Now if I didn't want to be here I would be going off the deep end now, but that is not the fact because I want to be here. My family likes it here. This is where I started and this is kind of where I want to finish. It is really just to franchise me to try to get a deal done.
"I think both parties will probably come to an agreement here soon on a long-term deal. A lot of guys would be going off the deep end now, which I understand why guys do it and why nobody wants to be franchised. That only happens when guys don't want to play the rest of their career with that team and they want to see what else is out there. I am in a situation where I want to be here. I want to play here. That doesn't really bother me."
In response to another question about a long-term deal, Jacobs said, "I am confident that something is going to get done. I do know that."
Jacobs said he felt good after this afternoon's conversation with Reese.
"I spoke to Jerry, and that is the reason I am being franchised – buying more time to get a deal done," Jacobs said.
This is just the second time – and the first instance in 16 years – the Giants have designated a franchise player. They used the tag on tackle Jumbo Elliott in 1993.
"That (being the Giants' first franchise player in more than a decade) is telling me that they really want me here," Jacobs said. "That is why I know for a fact that they are going to buy time to get a long term deal done. If they didn't want me here they would say, ‘Let him hit the market and see what he gets out there and then offer him toward the end of the whole thing.' They were pretty good about it, we were pretty good about it, and I feel good about the situation that I will be here at least for one more year if nothing gets done, but I am very confident that something is going to be done soon."
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