Combine'11: Crosby and Rice as RFAs

INDIANAPOLIS -- Adam Schefter's report on the state of restricted free agency (RFA) carries significant relevance in the NFC North on several levels.

First, it suggests the Green Bay Packers aren't likely to use their franchise tag on place-kicker Mason Crosby, who is unsigned for next season. As Schefter reported, many NFL teams are planning to offer RFA tenders to players with four or five years of experience, utilizing the rules of the NFL's uncapped system that began last year.

The league is expected to return to a salary cap format after a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is reached, but in the meantime there is no reason to place a franchise tag on a player with less than six years of experience. Crosby has four accrued seasons, and the Packers could limit his movement simply by placing an RFA tender on him.

The same is true for the Minnesota Vikings, who this week chose linebacker Chad Greenway over receiver Sidney Rice for their franchise tag. Greenway has played five years, while Rice has been in the NFL for four. Speaking Thursday, Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said: "We're just operating under the rules we're currently under right now." The uncapped system is "what we're under right now," he added.

Ultimately, teams have until March 3 to assign RFA tenders to players. They could well be moot when a new CBA is reached, but for now it at least explains how some of our division teams have approached the use of their franchise tags.