Patience is the word in the NFL this time of year. No one is in a rush.

The franchise tag period has begun, but there is no need to slap anyone with the tag just yet. There are a host of 2011 draft picks who will end up getting their fifth-year options picked up, but, again, don't expect to see that happen for a while. This is a league where, contractually, things are generally pretty slow until a deadline spurs action. We are far from any of that right now.

And, with a report emerging that the salary cap might somehow inflate by five percent -- a notion that caught teams as well as many execs at the NFLPA by surprise at the NFL combine here on Thursday -- all the more reason to slow-play any pending contract maneuvering. Now, don't get me wrong, agents and teams are laying the foundation for free agent deals and some contract extensions and plenty of cap cuts, but in a year with some uncertainty now about the cap, and at a time when teams have nothing to really gain by rushing to tag someone or execute a rookie-contract option, I would not expect much activity on that front anytime soon.

Let's get some housecleaning out of the way as well, before we go further down the road of franchise tags and options. Even if the cap rises to $130 million, up from the projections of $126.3 million teams have been using this offseason, it's no panacea for clubs, especially those who have to franchise players. Because under this new CBA, the franchise figures are tied more tightly to the cap, so all of those franchise tag projections we have been using (roughly $7M for tight ends and $12M for wide receivers, for instance) are out the window, too. Those contract tenders will rise as well, thus obviously cutting into the additional space a higher cap creates on paper.

Now, if you aren't franchising anyone, the extra space is a bonus to helping sign current players or wading into free agency. But for the half dozen teams I anticipate to actually apply the tag, it would be a misnomer to look at a cap increase as a way to aid their cause.