In an expected move, the Jets officially made David Harris their franchise player today.
Harris, who made a base salary of $550,000 in the final year of his rookie deal, was voted the team MVP by his teammates after having 99 tackles and three sacks in his fourth season.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum recently said re-signing Harris was a priority, and the Jets could still lock him up to a long-term deal once the NFL's uncertain labor situation is cleared up despite placing the franchise tag on him.
By using the tag, the Jets must pay Harris the average of the top five salaries among linebackers. Last year, Harris' position was worth about $9.6 million, meaning he could be in for a payday of $10 million or slightly higher.
The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. Harris is the most important free agent on the team and the highest priority. It would not make sense to sign him long term without knowing what the CBA will look like. After a labor deal is done, though, free agency could hit quickly depending on the date things are settled. It is better to have security with Harris rather than risk some team swooping in as the Jets are dealing with other things.
It will also be somewhat interesting to see whether the Jets used the exclusive tag on Harris. The exclusive tag means he get an average of the top five salaries at his position in 2011. No team can sign him. The other tag is for the average of the top five at his position in 2010, a smaller figure. Another team could sign him. The Jets would have a right to match any offer and would be entitled to two first round picks from that team if they let David go. Either way, it is a matter of salaries. I would not expect any team to pay that price.