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Top 5 Players Who Should Definitely Get Franchise Tag

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Top 5 Players Who Should Get Franchise Tag

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout this coming week, a number of teams are expected to use their franchise tag on players they can ill afford to lose for the 2013 season. Many of these tags should be used quickly, since the deadline to franchise a player is March 4th, which is less than a month away.

There are some players who aren’t worth slapping with the franchise tag, and who will have the chance to see what they are worth in the free agent market. Then there are players who are so valuable that franchising them is the only answer for keeping them from being lured in by other teams, and keeping their chances for a championship alive.

Generally, a team uses a franchise tag to buy some time in giving a player a long-term deal. There could be a large number of players to be slapped with the tag this offseason, and there could even be some players to be franchised for the second year in a row.

Last year, 21 teams used their franchise tag on players. I don’t think that many players will be tagged this year, but I do think that the offseason will see a good number of players get the franchise tag from their respective teams.

It’s hard to say without a doubt who will exactly be franchised, but I do have a good feeling of who should be franchise players for the 2013 season. Here are the top five players that I think will definitely be tagged.

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5. Danny Amendola-St. Louis Rams

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The steadily improving St. Louis Rams are probably a few players away from becoming legitimate contenders for the NFC West championship. However, one of the players who is currently on the roster is one of the reasons why the Rams have shown improvement this past season. Wide receiver Danny Amendola is one of St. Louis’ impact players on offense, and will be a huge loss if he ventures off to another team.

Amendola is a good complement to Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and the running attack spearheaded by running back Steven Jackson. The success of the Rams’ offense next season could be determined by whether or not Amendola is franchised this offseason.

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4. Phil Loadholt-Minnesota Vikings

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Huge part of Adrian Peterson’s 2,000-yard season was because of Minnesota Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt. Even though Loadholt isn’t a Pro Bowl caliber player yet, he is without a doubt the cornerstone of Minnesota’s offensive line. With it being said that fellow teammate Percy Harvin won’t participate with the team if he is slapped with the franchise tag, it should be safe to say that Loadholt is next in line. Besides, if the Vikings fail to keep the four-year veteran, I think there could be a good chance that Loadholt ends up playing for a divisional opponent next season. My guess would be the Chicago Bears.

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3. Henry Melton-Chicago Bears

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Even though the Chicago Bears will have a new defensive coordinator in 2013, there 4-3 defensive scheme will still be in place. Therefore, franchising defensive tackle Henry Melton is a no-brainer. Melton finished the 2012 season with six sacks, which was preceded by a seven-sack 2011 season. Both sack totals were third among interior defensive linemen in those respective seasons.

The third-year pro was selected to his first career Pro Bowl, and was a big reason why the defensive front of the Bears had 38 of the team’s 41 sacks. The Bears just may lose some of their defensive linemen due to free agency, so they should definitely lock down Melton to make sure that he isn’t one of them.

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2. Ryan Clady-Denver Broncos

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This potential franchise tagging is one of the most obvious in the league. Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady is arguably one of the best offensive linemen in the league, and has proven to be highly dependable. The three-time Pro Bowler hasn’t missed a game in his five-year career. The Broncos will be out of their mind to cut loose a player of this caliber. Clady is a big reason why Denver surrendered the second-least amount of sacks in the 2012 season (21). Furthermore, franchising Clady will make management feel more comfortable knowing that the blindside of quarterback Peyton Manning will be protected in 2013.

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1. Joe Flacco-Baltimore Ravens

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is hands down the biggest player in free agency. Along with Ryan Clady of the Broncos, keeping Flacco in a Ravens uniform is another no-brainer. Flacco’s postseason appearances in his five years in the league, and his Super Bowl MVP performance will be enough to keep him in the city of Baltimore for a long time. The soon-to-be-paid quarterback will eventually get the long-term contract that he desires, however, there is a chance that it won’t happen this offseason.

The possible re-signing of safety Ed Reed could determine whether Flacco will be franchised or not. If Baltimore decides to bring back Reed and have him retire as a Raven, then Flacco will definitely get the franchise tag. Either way, Flacco will get the money he deserves.

Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google