The Bengals today designated OL Stacy Andrews as the team’s franchise player, under terms of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The franchise tag gives Andrews the option to play for Cincinnati in 2008 for a salary equal to the average of the top five offensive linemen in the NFL for the previous season (2007 in this case).
Andrews will be a fifth-year NFL player in 2008. He is presently unsigned for ’08, and he will become an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29 if he does not reach a contract agreement with the Bengals prior to that date. The franchise-player designation means that the Bengals could retain Andrews by matching any offer sheet he would sign from another team, and that if the Bengals declined to match a signed offer, the team signing Andrews would be required to give the Bengals its first-round choices in the 2008 and 2009 NFL Drafts.
“Stacy has been a productive young player for us,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “He has shown the flexibility to start and play well at a number of different positions on our line. This move helps us keep our core players together, and it gives us an opportunity to continue negotiating for a longer-term contract with Stacy.”
Andrews played in every Bengals game last season, with 14 starts. He started Games 1-3 at LG, but later replaced injured Willie Anderson at ROT, starting at ROT in Games 5 and 7-16. He was a key contributor to the team’s record-low total of 17 sacks allowed. The Bengals ranked second in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed, one off the pace of league leader New Orleans.
“The franchise option is designed to help a team retain the rights to a top player,” said Bengals vice-president Troy Blackburn. “The players’ union supports it because it guarantees that player a salary commensurate with what he has accomplished.”
The Collective Bargaining Agreement permits a new agreement between Andrews and the Bengals to be reached at any time prior to July 15.