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Mailbag: Early Options For 2022 Franchise Tag? 


Just read in Mick Shots that there are 40 days between OTAs and training camp. I never realized that. I know these guys work out on their own, but I don't think that can compare to the stuff the coaches ask them to do. Why so much time between the two? Why not push OTAs back a bit? — GERRY HEITMAN / CAMERON, TX

Nick: I think there's a few factors here. I would tend to disagree with you. I like the extended break there. We all know what awaits them when camp starts. It begins a grueling non-stop journey that lasts until January or later. So maybe it's because I'm not a fan of year-round schooling, but I just like the bigger break. Get your down time, rest and maybe even vacations in before it's time to work. And that's why they have a conditioning test when camp starts. So be disciplined in your off time and be ready to work when camp begins.

Rob: The NFL hasn't asked my opinion on the way they schedule things, but I'm with you. To me, it makes sense to start the offseason program a little later so there's less of a layoff before training camp. Players do all this hard work in the offseason, and then they've got to wait at least five or six weeks before starting up again. Now, guys will continue to work out on their own and stay in shape, but I just think a shorter break might make that process a little easier, and maybe even help prevent injuries in preseason.

Some big-name rookie contracts expiring at season's end like Michael Gallup, Leighton Vander Esch and Dalton Schultz. Pending a huge season, who do you see the franchise tag going to, if any? Thoughts? — RUDY LONGORIA / SAN ANTONIO, TX

Nick: I know it's not his rookie deal, but I wouldn't forget about Gregory when talking about big contracts that are expiring. As for the franchise tag, I don't really see that scenario with any of these guys. Remember that this is an average of the Top 5 salaries in the NFL at their position. Let's be honest, with LVE, Gallup, Schultz and even Gregory, it's doubtful any of them are the best at their position on this team. Maybe LVE is when he's healthy. So franchise seems extreme. But bringing back? Yes it will depend a lot on what happens within the season.

Rob: I agree with the premise of your question, because the Cowboys like all three players and presumably want them on the team beyond 2021. But it's just hard to speculate on next year's tag. First, we've got a whole season to play. Second, the Cowboys have seemed to view the tag as more of a last-resort option on the road to getting long-term deals done. I guess my answer would be no one, unless contract talks start up at some point for Gallup, Vander Esch and/or Schultz and then stall.

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