Tag:Franchise Tags
Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 3:03 pm
 

Kickers Prater, Scobee get tagged; Barth too?

It's kicker franchise tag day in the NFL! (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

For many teams in 2011, kickers were the most important players on the roster. Or, at least, the most important free-agent-to-be anyway. The Buccaneers, Jaguars and Broncos all qualify as teams with valuable kickers, and they've reportedly decided to franchise Connor Barth, Josh Scobee and Matt Prater, respectively.

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Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union reports that Scobee will get the tag. Mike Klis of The Denver Post reports that Prater will get hit with the tag. And Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes that Barth will be the fifth kicker to get the tag.

The Jaguars have since confirmed that Scobee will receive the tag. But he's not happy about it.

"Josh is obviously disappointed in the choice to use the franchise tender," Scobee's agent Ken Harris told Ganguli. "While we have no plans of signing the tender at this point, we'll see if the long-term contract Josh deserves can eventually be reached."

The first two, naturally, were Mike Nugent of the Bengals and Phil Dawson of the Browns. (You would know this if you'd already bookmarked our franchise-tag tracker.)

Dawson was tagged last year, so he'll make $3.8 million in 2012. The rest of the kickers stand to make about $2.6 million in 2012 as guys who were tagged and receive a one-year, guaranteed contract from their respective teams.

And Prater is official now as well, with John Elway announcing the news on Twitter. (Where else, right?)

"Placing the franchise tag on Matt Prater ensures that he'll be a Bronco in 2012," Elway tweeted. "Matt's a very talented kicker & important part of our team. This gives us the ability to continue working on a long-term agreement."

Barth could be the fifth kicker tagged, but he has not yet been given that designation. There have only been reports that he could be tagged by the 4 p.m. ET deadline.

Scobee was outstanding in 2011, hitting on 92 percent of his field goals, including five of six from 50 yards or more. Barth hit two of three from 50 yards or more and also hit 92.9 percent of all his field goals. Prater only hit 76 percent of his field goals, but knocked down three of four from 50 or more yards, including a pair against the Bears that helped launch Tebowmania into the stratosphere.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 4:13 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 4:18 pm
 

Carl Nicks: 'I don't want to be franchised!!!!'

Nicks celebrates Brees breaking big records in happier times. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Saints are currently, as our own Mike Freeman reported on Wednesday, pretty far apart in their talks with quarterback Drew Brees on a new contract. This is bad news for the Saints, bad news for Saints fans, and not good news for Brees either.

But it could be good news for New Orleans All-Pro guard Carl Nicks, who would likely receive the franchise tag if the team and Brees can work out a deal. Because, if we understand him correctly, he has no interest in being given the franchise tag.

"I don't want to be franchised!!!!" Nicks tweeted on Wednesday.

Naturally the response from Nicks' followers (he only has 800 as he joined just five days ago) was to assume he wants to hit the free-agent market and leave New Orleans. He says that's not the case.

"So I guess people are getting hot so I'll just say this... I want to be a saint but I want what's fare... Be mad... If u don't like it...Don't follow me!!!!" Nicks tweeted.

Nicks also has a slew of tweets on his page about a countdown. That's a countdown to March 5, when the Saints face a deadline for utilizing the franchise tag. Nicks tweets that his "anxiety is on a hundred thousand trillion!...march 5 is a big day!!??"

If New Orleans can't reach a deal with Brees between now and March 5, they will use the franchise tag on their quarterback. If the Saints can work out a deal with Brees, either Nicks or free-agent-to-be wideout Marques Colston will likely receive the franchise tag. Nicks is the best guess since he's a young, interior offensive lineman with an All-Pro award and two Pro Bowl appearances. He would be extremely difficult to re-sign on the open market.

Speaking of difficult to sign, if the Saints allow both Colston and Nicks to leave via free agency, it's not going to make Brees any happier about signing his new deal either. It's quite the conundrum for New Orleans right now.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:52 am
 

Report: Browns 'unlikely' to tag Peyton Hillis

Hillis isn't likely a candidate for a franchise tag. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

When the Browns went out and signed D'Qwell Jackson to a new five-year deal last week, it seemed like a good indication that they'd use their franchise tag elsewhere. Perhaps running back Peyton Hillis would be a target.

But that doesn't appear to be the case. Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports that the Browns are "unlikely" to use the tag on Hillis, but may still attempt to re-sign the running back before free agency begins on March 13.

The price for tagging a running back is $7.7 million, all of which is guaranteed, so it shouldn't be shocking that the Browns will avoid using that on Hillis. Not only would that be overpaying for his 2012 production, but it would be giving Hillis too high a number for baseline negotiations going forward.

Hills struggled badly in 2012, after a breakout 2011 season that landed him on the Madden cover. He played in just 10 games last year, ran for just 587 yards and saw his rushing yards per attempt dip nearly a full yard, from 4.4 in 2010 to 3.6 last season. He found the end zone just three times in 2011 after 13 total touchdowns in 2010. And he had reported issues with his contract off the field as well.

A more likely candidate for the Browns tag? Their kicker, Phil Dawson. Cabot writes that it's "doubtful" the Browns use the tag at all. If Dawson, who turned 37 in January, were to get the tag from the Browns, he'd be guaranteed $3.8 million.

While that's not outrageous, there's something about "using a franchise tag on a 37-year-old kicker" that just screams "we won't contend this year."

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Posted on: February 25, 2012 7:17 pm
 

Report: Pats 'likely' to franchise tag Wes Welker

Welkers will reportedly get the franchise tag from New England. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We've mentioned Wes Welker's name several times over the past few weeks. Once as our pick for the top available free-agent wide receiver and previously as a player on whom the franchise tag would probably be used.

And that appears to be the case: according to a report from Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Patriots "are likely" to utilize the franchise tag and place it on Welker before the March 5 deadline, in order to prevent Welker from hitting the open market. If Welker signed his tender, he would receive a guaranteed, one-year salary of $9.5 million.

There was some belief that the Patriots wouldn't commit that much cash in guaranteed money to Welker and would let him test the market and then attempt to re-sign him at a lower rate than what Welker reportedly wants (it's believed he wants to be paid somewhere in the range of $14 to $15 million per year).

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reported on Saturday that the logic behind the Patriots change of heart is that the market for Welker in free agency would be "incredibly active."

The last time New England used the franchise tag, things did not go smoothly. Logan Mankins, one of the defendants in the Lockout Lawsuit, held out for seven games after the labor crisis was resolved.

And there's a chance that a similar stand-off could occur with Welker if the two sides don't reach a long-term deal. Welker's critical to the Patriots offense -- he has 554 receptions and 6,105 receiving yards since 2007 -- but he would also like to be paid like one of the top wideouts in the game and given his age and previous injury history, the security of one more big contract.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Seahawks GM says RB Lynch will be on team in 2012

Will Lynch be a Seahawk in 2012? 'Yeah' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was the fourth-best running back on our list of potential free agents. But it doesn't sound like there's much of a chance of him getting out of Seattle.

We noted a few days ago a report that Lynch and the Seahawks were "deep" in contract negotiations. And on Thursday at the NFL combine, John Schneider confirmed just that, saying the two sides have had "great discussions."
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"We're having great discussions and I'm actually meeting with his guy tonight," Schneider said. "But we've had great discussions since, man, probably two-to-three weeks left in the season. So there's no animosity at all. It's a good dialogue. No fistfights."

As everyone knows, the No. 1 rule of contract negotiations is "no fistfights." So that's good. Asked about the possibility of Lynch getting the franchise tag in 2012, Schneider said "sure." He also later confirmed to Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com ("yeah") that Lynch would be with the Seahawks for at least one more season.

We previously mentioned that Marshawn's up-and-down production in 2011 should be a big, red flag for the Seahawks. But Schneider believes (and, perhaps, rightly so) that Lynch's struggles were more a byproduct of a shortened offseason and an offensive line that didn't gel until late in the year.

"Not necessarily," Schneider said when asked if Lynch's splits were a concern. "Because were kind of coming together with our offensive line. There was a new group and an odd, odd offseason," Schneider said. "So with him it was more of a timing thing with his reads and anticipation. Once the guys up front started coming together he kind of took off, and we had those injuries to [James] Moffitt and [James] Carpenter and we had some guys step in and play real well. Once those guys became more of a cohesive group he just continued to perform at a high level."

The price for Lynch, either in a long-term deal or via the $7.7 million tag, is pretty steep. But if putting Lynch on a one-year contract motivates him to run like he did in the latter half of 2011, it'll look like a steal by this time next year.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Report: Lynch, Seahawks 'deep' in contract talks

Seattle and Lynch are reportedly 'deep' in contract talks. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In 2011, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had the most productive season of his career, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns on 285 carries. Despite that, it's been thought that Seattle wouldn't use the franchise-tag on the impending free agent.

A report from Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network significantly changes the perception of Lynch's future in Seattle, as LaCanfora writes on Monday that the two sides are "deep" in contract talks and could use the tag if a deal isn't completed.

"The Seahawks are deep in talks with running back Marshawn Lynch on a long-term deal, which could well be completed before the March 5 deadline. If that somehow falls apart, the Seahawks are prepared to tag Lynch, according to a source with knowledge of the situation."

There's reason to be optimistic about Lynch's future. Though he didn't produce his best cumulative season, he was absolutely dominant down the stretch in 2011, rushing for 941 yards (78.2 percent of his season total) over the final nine games of the season.

And maybe this tag is an obvious one to some people, but there's a reason we didn't list Lynch when we ran down a list of guys we thought would be likely to get franchise-tagged: he's got some serious mileage and some serious question marks.

For starters, Lynch's career-high yards-per-carry total is 4.2, which he posted in 2011. It's also easy to laud his numbers from 2011, but remember, through the first seven weeks of the season, Lynch was averaging 3.55 YPC and just 44 yards per game. That's not the sort of performance that warrants a big-money, long-term investment and it might not be the type of performance worthy of an $8-million-ish payday just for next season either.

Especially when you could just pay him in Skittles.

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 11:11 am
 

Report: Matt Prater 'likely' to get Broncos tag

Britton Colquitt is VERY excited about Prater staying in Denver. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We spent an inordinate amount of time putting together a list of players likely to receive franchise tags this offseason earlier today and, of course, we forgot someone. But it wasn't necessarily an obvious name: the Broncos are reportedly "likely" to use their franchise tag on kicker Matt Prater.

That's according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post, who writes that it "wouldn't be surprising" if the Broncos used their franchise tag on Prater in order to keep him from hitting the market and pay him a guaranteed salary of $2.6 million.

Prater was pretty stout in 2011, hitting 76 percent of his field goal attempts, including three of four from beyond 50 yards.

His accuracy inside the 40-49 yard range -- just three of seven -- left something to be desired. But his big leg saved the Broncos more than once and he helped get Tim Tebow's legacy really cranked up. (Don't worry: the Big Guy gives it up for Prater.)

If the Broncos franchise Prater, it'll be the first time they've used the tag on a kicker in 10 years, as they hit Jason Elam with the franchise tag in 2002.

And lest you think that franchise-tagging a kicker signifies a team on the decline, the Broncos actually made the playoffs in 2003, 2004 and 2005

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Posted on: February 14, 2012 9:07 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 9:59 am
 

What players will get franchise tagged in 2012?

Brees reportedly won't be happy if he gets tagged. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday February 20, NFL teams can begin to apply the franchise tag to players. They can do so up until March 5 at 4 p.m. ET. For those that don't know, the franchise tag is a method of keeping players from hitting the open market. Previously, the franchise-tag number was generated by averaging the top-five salaries at a position to determine a number for that position.

This year, the franchise tag value will be a percentage of the overall salary cap figure for the previous five years. As such, NFL.com (the league's official website, making the figures trustworthy, one would hope) the following figures, plus figures from last year that we've included:

Position 2012 Franchise Tag Value*
2011 Franchise Tag Value
Quarterback
$14.4 million $16.1 million
Running Back
$7.7 million $9.6 million
Wide Receiver
$9.4 million $11.4 million
Tight End
$5.4 million $7.3 million
Offensive Line
$9.4 million $10.1 million
Defensive End
$10.6 million $13 million
Defensive Tackle
$7.9 million $12.5 million
Linebacker
$8.8 million $10.1 million
Cornerback
$10.6 million $13.5 million
Safety
$6.2 million $8.8 million

*The only instances this doesn't apply: when a player already made more than the franchise-tag value, or when a player receives the franchise tag for the second-straight year, in which case tagging said player would cost 120 percent of their previous base salary.

Aside from the asterisked exception above, it's clearly much more cost effective to utilize the franchise tag on a player in 2012 than it was in 2011. Wide receivers like DeSean Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston might not be tag candidates at $11.4 million. At $9.4 million, they certainly are.


With all of that in mind, let's look at some possible franchise-tag candidates, in order of likelihood to be tagged.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, Marques Colston or Carl Nicks

The Saints are all but guaranteed to use their franchise tag. Brees is a free agent and there is a zero percent chance that they let him walk into free agency. This is an absolute zero; losing Brees would not only be a disaster for the franchise in terms of winning, it would result in riots on Bourbon Street.

Various reports have emerged about where Brees and the Saints stand. (His agent, Tom Condon, is involved in a small contract situation surrounding Peyton Manning in Indianapolis.) As CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote last week, "the road could be rockier than initially thought" when getting Brees a new deal.

If the Saints can't get a deal done by the tag deadline, they will use the tag on Brees and sort out a deal later. If they can negotiate a deal with Brees before then, either Colston or Nicks will likely get tagged. My money's on Nicks, who could be a steal at less than $10 million given his age and his performance on the interior line the last two years.
DeSean might finally catch that money. (Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson

Reports are already rolling in that Jackson will be tagged and that the team will seek to trade him once they place the tag on Jackson. Philly better be comfortable rolling with D-Jax if they can't find a suitor, though, because the wide receiver is a good bet to swoop in and sign his tender quickly. The $9.4 million represents more than triple what Jackson's made in his entire career thus far, and you can bet he'd like to see some guaranteed money.

Worst case, of course, is that Philly ends up giving its top playmaker one more "contract year" at turning in a big performance before hitting free agency. $9.4 million is a lot to pay for a wideout, but it's better than a) doling out a big contract to someone new and/or a malcontent, or b) letting Jackson walk for nothing in return.

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte

The rumors of Forte getting tagged began long ago as the Bears said they simply won't let him get to free agency. And they can't: Mike Tice replaced Mike Martz, but that could mean Chicago becoming more dependent on Forte's skills as a rusher and pass-catcher.

Forte said he's OK with the franchise tag provided it leads to further contract negotiations. Those appear to be more successful this time around, without Jerry Angelo on the other side of the table. But if Forte struggles early in his return from injury (an MCL sprain) things could get dicey.

Regardless, he's a steal at $7.7 million in 2012.

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice

Another no-brainer for the team here: Rice is one of the most dynamic backs in football and accounted for a large chunk of the Ravens offense. Rice's league-leading 2,068 yards from scrimmage accounted for 38.2 percent of the Ravens 5,419 yards, to be exact.

Rice lead the team in rushing ... and receptions. The Ravens need him and it's unfathomable that they'd let Rice walk. He probably won't be happy about playing for $7.7 million in 2012 and it seems obvious that Ozzie Newsome would like to lock down a guy who's averaged just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage in the three years he's been a starter for the team.
Will Welker's drop hurt his value? (Getty Images)

New England Patriots: Wes Welker

Welker's taken a lot of grief for his now-infamous drop in the Super Bowl. But just because the guy missed one catch doesn't mean we should forget what he's done for the past five years in New England: Welker averaged 111 catches and 1,221 yards per season since arriving from Miami.

Here's where it gets interesting though: Welker will be 31 when 2012 begins. He's considered a "slot" receiver. But he reportedly wants to be paid like an "elite" receiver. (It's, uh, kind of hard to blame him.) Lots of people think Welker wouldn't be as successful without the Patriots system, but how successful would the Patriots be without Welker?

In other words, we might be headed to an old-fashioned standoff, where the Pats use the franchise tag on Welker (it's all but certain they will, mainly to avoid him landing with an AFC East rival), and Welker refusing to play. Our Rapid Reporter Greg Bedard's speculated as much previously, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Welker sit out the first few weeks if the Pats aren't willing to give him a long-term deal.

Washington Redskins: Fred Davis

Davis had a big year in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards in just 12 games (with Rex Grossman and John Beck throwing him the ball). He missed four games when he was suspended under the NFL's substance-abuse policy. But that actually works in Washington's favor here, since they can commit just $5.5 million to Davis without any fear of long-term blowback.

Buffalo Bills: Stevie Johnson

I spoke with Johnson at the Super Bowl and he said he'd be amenable to playing under the franchise tag in 2012. And it's hard to imagine Buffalo letting one of the more talented and underrated receivers in the game simply walk away. Johnson, depending on the market, could be one of the top wide receivers available.

Given the nature of Buffalo's weapons on offense, $9.4 million isn't all that steep for someone who's produced as steadily as Johnson has over the past two seasons. He took a small step back in receptions, yardage and touchdowns in 2011, but part of that can be attributed to the injuries to Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Bills late-season swoon.

And if he's willing to ditch the penalty-inflicting celebrations? He's worth it.

Bowe's a fan favorite in KC -- for good reason.(Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Carr

This is quite the conundrum for KC: does new coach Romeo Crennel, recently promoted from defensive coordinator, push to keep the 25-year-old defensive back, or does he sit back while the franchise lets Carr walk and hangs onto it's top wideout?

Bowe quietly put together another monster season in 2011, catching nine more balls than he did in 2010 and only three yards less. Granted, he found the end zone 10 times less this past season, but chalk that up to the Chiefs stupid-easy schedule against the pass in 2010. Oh yeah, and because he was catching balls from Tyler Palko for a quarter of the season.

Bowe's a better value at his franchise cost ($1 million less) I suppose, but Carr will be harder to retain in free agency, because of the nature of cornerbacks on the open market.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes or Curtis Lofton

The Falcons, not so quietly, have a ton of guys up for free agency this year. Grimes, Lofton, defensive ends John Abraham and Kroy Biermann and center Todd McLure lead the list. One of Grimes or Lofton surely will get the franchise tag.

For the same reason as listed with the Chiefs, Grimes makes the most sense -- he'll simply be harder to retain in free agency. Lofton would be $2 million cheaper but Grimes is more important to the Falcons defense. A logical move might be to feel out contract negotiations with both players (provided the Falcons want to keep both of them anyway), work out an extension with one as quickly as possible, franchise the other defender and look to cut a deal with them down the road.
It's hard to put a price on Avril's pass rush. (Getty Images)

Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril

Avril's made no bones about the possibility of being franchised, and isn't happy with the notion. But the franchise tag actually doesn't exist simply to keep a guy around for another year without paying him big money. It's to keep a guy around while you work out a long-term contract.

That's what Avril, who will turn 26 in April, wants, and it should be what the Lions want too, given their dependence on a strong pass rush on the defensive end of things. At $10.6 million he would provide nice value. Provided he played the whole season anyway.

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Mathis

Chuck Pagano's a defensive guy, and even though he's coming into a rebuilding project, it's hard to see he and general manager Ryan Grigson passing on a shot to keep a talented pass-rusher like Mathis around for one more year at a reasonable rate.

Mathis probably said it himself over the weekend on Twitter when he noted that "The #TAG is an honor but personally if i was tagged now id feel they didnt want me but just have not found my replacement yet." Prepare to be honored sir.

Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer

According to one report out of Texas, the Cowboys are at least considering franchising Spencer. The logic isn't that the outside linebacker, drafted 26th overall in 2007, is a monster and worth $8.8 million next year. He's not.

But Spencer might be worth holding onto if the Cowboys don't believe they can fill that spot with a reliable enough player through free agency and don't want to force themselves into selecting an outside linebacker early in the draft and forcing him to play.

Giving Spencer that sort of cash at least provides a safety net for Rob Ryan's defense.

Green Bay Packers: Jermichael Finley

Finley's case is a fascinating one. At $5.5 million, the tight end is a no-doubt-about-it franchise tag choice. But what about at $9.4 million? I ask because Finley's reportedly ready to argue that he's actually more of a wide receiver than a tight end, based on the number of snaps he takes from a wide receiver position. (He may want to remove the words "best tight ends in the league" from his website then.)

The Packers don't seem ready to give Finley a long-term deal yet, but they're also not willing to let him go. That tune could change if Finley's awarded the same price as a wide receiver in arbitration.
Wallace's RFA status is a concern. (Getty Images)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Mike Wallace

Wallace is actually on a restricted free agent, but as Wilson pointed out on Tuesday's podcast, there's been a lot of discussion in Steelers-land about the possibility of using the full-blown franchise tag on Wallace regardless of his status.

Here's some hypothetical logic: the Steelers use the non-exclusive tag on Wallace, the Patriots, with two first-round picks in the coming draft, negotiate a deal with Wallace and force the Steelers to match said deal or take one of the picks from the Pats. The pick isn't that high and Wallace is a stud, so Pittsburgh, who wants to lock down Wallace anyway, would be letting the Pats (or whomever) negotiate for them.

Lest you think this is silly, look no further than a guy we already talked about: Welker. The Patriots obtained him via trade, but only after the Dolphins used the restricted tag on Welker. After they did, the Pats negotiated with Welker to work in a provision in his contract that would include a monster bonus if he played X games in the state of Florida (AKA "a poison pill"). The Dolphins caved and simply dealt Welker to the Pats instead of trying to play chicken.

The downside is that the Steelers would be forced to paying $7 million extra in 2012 for their No. 1 wideout. The upside is not getting poison-pilled by an AFC rival who'll then hijack the Steelers for the deep threat they need. Hypothetically speaking of course.

Oakland Raiders: Michael Bush

The idea of paying Bush more than Darren McFadden's been bandied about, and it makes sense given Run-DMC's injury history. It doesn't make sense when you consider that new GM Reggie McKenzie would suddenly have a ton of money committed to two running backs. But here's an idea: tag Bush, trade McFadden and then give Bush a new contract. You keep him off the market, you recoup some of those Carson Palmer draft picks and you keep the back best suited for Greg Knapp's zone-rushing attack.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com