One week from today, we'll know if either of our two franchise players will receive a long-term deal in 2012. If not, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril in essence will need to sign one-year contracts in order to play this season.
Both would be rewarded handsomely, Forte at $7.74 million guaranteed and Avril at $10.6 million guaranteed. It's possible one or both could miss some training camp time, but it's hard to imagine either carrying a holdout into the season and risk losing a game check. At those salaries, Forte would lose about $455,000 for every week of the regular season he missed. Avril would sacrifice about $623,000.
The biggest issue is that we would be right back where we started with both players next winter. Once again, Forte and Avril would be eligible for free agency in March unless they are tagged again. For all we know, that is the plan for both players. But absent a resolution over the next week, it's quite possible we'll have the same conversation next March.
Related: ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt looks at how the franchise tag has evolved in recent years.