Every NFL Team’s Most Likely Player to Receive Franchise Tag
Every NFL Team's Player Most Likely to Receive Franchise Tag
The franchise tag is a glorious tool for teams to be able to keep their big name stars for another year. Other opinions on the franchise tag might sound a bit discrepant depending on who you ask. There are two types of franchise tags, the non-exclusive and the exclusive.
The non-exclusive tag, which is the more popular of the two, offers a player a contract in which he will receive no less than the average of the top five salaries at his position over the last five years. The player is still free to negotiate with other teams with the non-exclusive designation, but his own team has five days to match any offer the player is given. If his team does not, they will be compensated with two first round draft picks.
The exclusive tag is exactly what it says. The terms are the same as the non-exclusive tag except the player cannot be haggled with by other teams. This tag is most often used on quarterbacks. When a team places this tag, they fully intend to get a long-term deal done with the player.
Another year of having a star player with a chance to arrange a long-term deal for the team, big money for the player, sounds like a win-win right?
Most players, while they love the money, would much prefer to avoid the franchise tag. Football is a violent game, and you never know what could happen in just one year. Not only could a career be ended on any play, but even just a season-ending injury or one that hobbles a tagged player for the year could greatly hinder the player’s ability to cash out the next season when the tag has expired.
Clubs also tend to shun the franchise tag. The tag pays a player a monumental amount of money that counts for a huge number against the cap. That sets the franchise back in terms of acquiring new players and re-signing their own free agents.
Players want the security of a long-term deal, but unfortunately (depending on how you view the situation) some of them will be receiving the one-year deal that a franchise tag brings.
This is every team’s most likely option to receive the franchise tag, listed in alphabetical order by full team name.
Arizona Cardinals: LB Karlos Dansby
Dansby has stated his desire to stay with the Cardinals, the team that started his NFL career and brought him to his first and only Super Bowl, and wants to get a multiyear deal before free agency. If this cannot happen though, expect Dansby to be slapped with the franchise tag. Losing the production that annual Pro Bowl snub Dansby brings to the team would be devastating.
Atlanta Falcons: DT Corey Peters
The Falcons have three interior defensive linemen becoming free agents this offseason. Corey Peters is the best and youngest of the three and presents the most upside. Peters had the best year of his career in 2013 and managed to tally five sacks from his defensive tackle position.
Baltimore Ravens: OT Eugene Monroe
After trading a fourth and fifth round pick for Monroe in the middle of the season, the Ravens would surely like to keep their new LT and Flacco's blind side protector in Baltimore. Monroe is one of the top free agent LTs on the market so locking him up before other teams have a chance to talk to him would be the wisest choice.
Buffalo Bills: S Jairus Byrd
Jairus Byrd is in line to receive the franchise tag for the second year in a row. Byrd, who has 22 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles in his five-year NFL career, is a ball-hawking safety who will command big money if he hits the free agent market. The Bills do not want to let that happen as Byrd was a vital part of the fourth ranked defense in passing yards allowed and second ranked defense in takeaways.
Carolina Panthers: DE Greg Hardy
The Kraken will once again terrorize the NFC South. He may only do it for one more year though. Carolina has a lot of money tied up into their other defensive end, Charles Johnson, so getting a multiyear deal done with Hardy will be difficult.
Chicago Bears: C Roberto Garza
Garza is getting older but he had consistently been one of the better centers in the league. The Bears need to secure Garza to keep the offensive line, which was rebuilt last offseason, from becoming another disaster for whoever is playing quarterback in 2014.
Cincinnati Bengals: DE Michael Johnson
Pass rushers are a premium in this league, especially tall, long guys like Johnson. The Bengals have a slew of good players hitting the free agent market, but Johnson, while having an extremely disappointing 2013 season, is a force off the edge and the Bengals will slap him with the tag if they cannot get a multiyear deal done.
Cleveland Browns: S TJ Ward
TJ Ward would be the most likely to be given the franchise tag because he would have the cheaper salary on his tag. The Browns’ other big name free agent, center Alex Mack, would be grouped into the “offensive lineman” category for the tag, which includes pricey left tackles’ salaries.
Dallas Cowboys: DL Jason Hatcher
Hatcher is getting older (32), but he was a pro-bowler in 2013 and he is the Cowboys' best defensive lineman. The Cowboys would be smart to bring in/back anyone who can help their defense which was ranked 32nd in the NFL in 2013.
Denver Broncos: WR Eric Decker
The Broncos have a long list of in-house free agents, and newly promoted GM John Elway will have some tough decisions to make. Eric Decker gets the nod over Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris Jr. because Decker, who is one of the best receivers in the NFL, actually has a cheaper projected franchise tag salary than the two cornerbacks. Decker is a huge part of the NFL’s most prolific offense and had 11 touchdown grabs in 2013.
Detroit Lions: DL Willie Young
Young started the first games of his career in 2013 and took advantage of the opportunity. Young had three sacks, 47 tackles and five passes defended. Young, like many of the Lions’ in-house free agents, may not be willing of the numbers that a franchise tag will bring, but new Lions’ HC Jim Caldwell will likely want to bring Young back to Detroit.
Green Bay Packers: CB Sam Shields
For the Packers it comes down to Evan Dietrich-Smith or Sam Shields. The two will have only a $100,000 discrepancy in their eight-figure projected salary that would come with the franchise tag. Shields is more likely to receive the franchise tag as the Packers would like to lock Dietrich-Smith down long-term to anchor the offensive line for years to come.
Houston Texans: DL Antonio Smith
The Ninja Assassin, as he is nicknamed, isn’t getting any younger, but his play isn’t dropping off either. The Texans experienced a down year last year and as a result have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. If the Texans decide to draft Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina, and slap the tag on Smith, who has a career 41.5 sacks, the Texans’ front seven would be one of the best in the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts: CB Vontae Davis
Davis, who is only 26-years-old, was the Colts’ best cornerback in 2013. The team is short on talent at that position and can’t let Davis leave. Davis is a big, physical cornerback who will be needed as long as Andre Johnson is in the same division. Davis’ size and ability to press at the line of scrimmage is what is now the hot commodity in the NFL, so locking him up is a must for the Colts.
Jacksonville Jaguars: RB Maurice Jones-Drew
Jones-Drew has been the workhorse in Jacksonville since 2006. The last two seasons have been down years for MJD, but he is still the best offensive weapon the Jaguars have and the most productive free agent besides CB Will Blackmon, who would cost an extra $2 million if tagged based on projected numbers.
Kansas City Chiefs: DL Tyson Jackson
Jackson is a key piece of making the Chiefs 3-4 defense work. The former third-overall pick contributed four sacks this season from his inside defensive end position while clogging up run lanes. The Chiefs have a plethora of in-house free agents who were key contributors, so the tag will likely be used this offseason.
Miami Dolphins: CB Brent Grimes
Grimes, who will be 31 when next season starts, was the second-ranked CB in 2013 according to ProFootballFocus.com and could have very well been the Comeback Player of the Year. Grimes, who missed all but one game in 2012, allowed zero touchdowns this season, and for a 5-foot-9 CB that is incredible. Grimes shut down the opposing team’s best receiver week in and week out last season. The franchise tag will be a last resort, but the Dolphins will use it if need be.
Minnesota Vikings: DT Kevin Williams
The Vikings don’t have any players worthy of the franchise tag, but if there was one player who they would like to lock down it is DT Kevin Williams. Williams has been with the franchise his entire career and was one half of the “Williams Wall” that was responsible for closing running lanes for a top ranked rushing defense from 2006-08. Williams is still a dominant run-stuffer and has 60 sacks in his 11-year career as a defensive tackle.
It is unlikely that the Vikings tag Jared Allen as he would receive 120 percent of his already huge salary from 2013 since his salary was greater than what he would receive if tagged.
New England Patriots: RB LeGarrette Blount
The Patriots are currently looking at losing their top cornerback, receiver and running back from 2013. The Patriots are great at plugging pieces in and making it work, but they will still want to keep some of the key pieces from last season. LeGarrette Blount could be the recipient of the franchise tag as power running is making a comeback in the NFL and the Patriots’ power running game was lethal for the last quarter of the season. Blount is a behemoth of a runner with his 6-foot, 250-pound frame.
New Orleans Saints: TE Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham will be the most likely to receive the tag from the Saints as getting a multiyear deal done with the right numbers for both sides will be difficult. Coincidentally, tagging Graham could prove to be just as difficult as he could file a grievance to the NFLPA that he was a wide receiver and should be paid as such. Wide receivers will make $5 million more than tight ends when franchised tagged in 2014 according to projected numbers.
New York Giants: DL Linval Joseph
Joseph, the former second-round pick, has to be a priority to have back in 2014. The Giants could go many ways with the tag, including slapping it on Hakeem Nicks again, but the most likely option is Joseph. He was one of the bright spots of a dull season for the Giants.
New York Jets: K Nick Folk
The Jets somehow got eight wins last season with a stagnant offense. The team owns a strong defense and has a short list of impactful free agents. The most likely to receive the tag in New York would be kicker Nick Folk as no other free agents would be worthy of the price tag that comes with the franchise tag. Folk’s price tag would be close to $4 million which is a huge number for a kicker, but he has been reliable for the Jets.
Oakland Raiders: DL Lamarr Houston
The Raiders are another team that doesn’t have a player deserving of the franchise tag, but if we are judging by most productive free agents Houston gets the nod. The Raiders were in the top half (13th) of rushing yards allowed as a defense and that is in big part thanks to Houston. Houston had career-highs with six sacks and 56 solo tackles.
Philadelphia Eagles: WR Riley Cooper
After facing one of the most adverse situations in NFL locker-room history when a video surfaced of him using a racial slur, Cooper rebounded with his best season as an NFL receiver and developed into Nick Foles’ favorite receiver. The 6-foot-3 Cooper provides a nice complement to the smaller, more dynamic DeSean Jackson. The tag may be placed upon Cooper if he and the Eagles cannot work out a long-term deal for the receiver who caught eight touchdowns and averaged 17.6 yards per catch in 2013.
Pittsburgh Steelers: S Ryan Clark
Ryan Clark may be getting his media career started this offseason on ESPN, but he is still ready to play in 2014 and wants to finish his career for the team he has been playing for since 2006. Clark is still productive and has had at least 100 tackles in his past three years with a career-high 104 in 2013. With talks that the Steelers may part ways with long-time safety Troy Polamalu, bringing Clark back becomes a priority as he and Polamalu are the leaders of the Steelers’ defense.
San Diego Chargers: LB Donald Butler
Butler is one of only three Chargers’ free agents to play more than 500 snaps. He started only 12 games this season but still managed to deflect a career-high five passes defended and was eight solo tackles shy of setting a new career-high. Butler had a clutch interception of Peyton Manning in the back of the end zone which kept the Chargers’ in the game in the Divisional Round of the AFC Playoffs in 2013.
San Francisco 49ers: S Donte Whitner
Donte “Hitner” Whitner is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the league. He is the 49ers’ Kam Chancellor. Whitner played over 1,000 snaps this season for the 49ers and was one of the best defenders on a team that includes NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith.
Seattle Seahawks: DE Michael Bennett
Michael Bennett has made it clear that he is not going to give a “hometown discount” to the Seahawks. The Seahawks want to keep the nucleus of its Super Bowl team intact, and retaining Bennett, their best pass-rusher other than Cliff Avril, will be key to keeping their defense at daunting levels. The franchise tag may be the best and only way to keep Bennett in Seattle.
St. Louis Rams: OL Rodger Saffold
The Rams have positioned themselves so they don’t have any key contributors becoming free agents this offseason. They will likely be buyers in free agency this offseason, but if they do drop a franchise tag it would be on Rodger Saffold as he is a young player who can play both guard and tackle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: LB Dekoda Watson
Watson was the most productive out of a group of free agents that new HC Lovie Smith will likely let walk. Watson, who only started three games in 2013, is an athletic linebacker who runs a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash. He has made his 263 snaps on defense count as he tallied two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.
Tennessee Titans: CB Alterraun Verner
Verner has become one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and is only 25-years-old. Verner, who was a tackling machine in 2012, logged career-highs in interceptions (5) and passes defended (23) in 2013. Verner will want a long-term deal with big money, but he may end up getting tagged and told to prove his worth once again on a one-year deal.
Washington Redskins: LB/DE Brian Orakpo
Orakpo, a 2014 Pro-Bowler, had a huge bounce-back season in 2013 after playing in only two games in 2012. Orakpo was one sack shy of his career-high, which he set his rookie year, and pulled down the first interception of his career. Orakpo is a physical freak, and the Redskins would benefit from having him on the squad in 2014.
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