Matt Cassel knows what the franchise tag process is all about. And he has advice for JC Jackson.
His biggest takeaway? Increase the intensity one notch.
“That’s the reality you have to understand when you’re playing under the franchise label. You’re locked in,” he said. “It’s also a short-term thing – a one-year contract that does not mean the end of the world.
“At the end of the day, you still have to have that same hunger, that same desire. This is another opportunity for a huge payday. There’s a longer-term deal just around the corner; focus entirely on this year. Bring the same attention to detail and consistency when it comes to performance when you return to the field.”
This year’s tag window runs until March 8. The Patriots have a range of possibilities when it comes to the tag option, but the name that keeps coming up is cornerback JC Jackson. The defensive back, who led New England with eight interceptions last season (and has 25 picks over the past four years) would be in line for a one-year salary of $17 million if tagged.
A week into the franchise tag window, Jackson has already said he’s disappointed the team hasn’t contacted a potential new deal.
“I guess they feel like they don’t need me,” Jackson told NBC Sports Boston. “I guess I can’t be that important to them. I know I am, but they don’t show me.
For his part, Cassel was tagged early in the process — on Feb. 5, 2009, the first day teams were allowed to tag players during the offseason. He acknowledges that his own situation was different from most. Of the 10 instances the Patriots have used the franchise tag, only two of them, Cassel and Tebucky Jones in 2003, ended in a trade.
“It was really interesting for me,” Cassel recalled when asked about the trip that ended with him being tagged. “I was entering my last year of my contract as a substitute. If Tom hadn’t been hurt, who knows what would have happened to me?
There were a lot of emotions when conversations about him possibly being tagged came up, but once it was official, Cassel said he had a pretty good idea of what was to come next.
“But because of the injury of Tom and me going out and playing, things changed for me. I was able to prove that I could play at a high level,” he added. “I got to the offseason and I thought I was going to go into the free agent process. In the end, it was unique for me – talks started with my agent to franchise me.
“I finally got franchised – at the end of the day everyone knew Tom Brady would come back and be the starter,” he said. “But they were able to control and dictate the conditions where I would go and what my next stop would be.”
Cassel knows his situation is different from Jackson, but when asked if he had any tips for the cornerback, he said Jackson should think long term.
“You have to understand what you’re going through and what it means,” he said. “It’ll be the most money he’s made in his entire life. Although it’s a year, it’s still a good payday – you’re locked in and guaranteed that money no matter what. You must take this into account.
“[But] if he continues to perform at such a high level – as he has for the past two years – someone will give him a big contract. It’s just a matter of who and when.
Christopher Price can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at cpriceglobe.