Tag:Will Brinson
Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:33 pm
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2012 NFL Franchise Tags: Winners and losers

Jackson's a big winner Monday, as he escaped the franchise tag like it was a defensive back. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

A record 21 players received a franchise tag in advance of Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, including six kicker-types. You can see everyone that got tagged at our 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker. Let's break down the winners and losers below.

Winners

Vincent Jackson: Jackson held out most of 2010 because he wanted to get paid. He then signed his franchise-tag tender in 2011 because he wanted to get guaranteed money. Now that the Bolts declined to tag him, he's going to get filthy rich as one of the top two wide receivers to hit the free-agent market on March 13. Jackson and Marques Colston are the two top talents on a market that features several teams -- the Redskins, Rams, Jaguars, Vikings, and Seahawks, to name a few -- in need of a wideout.

Carl Nicks: Nicks reportedly hasn't heard anything on a new deal from the Saints and with New Orleans not reaching a deal with quarterback Drew Brees before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, Nicks is going to hit the open market on March 13. He's 26, a two-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro team in

Matt Flynn: Flynn wasn't expected to receive a tag from the Packers, but it's official now, and that means he'll hit the free-agent market. This is critical for Flynn given the number of quarterback-needy teams out there. It's also critical because the Packers won't control his next destination; if they tagged Flynn for the price of $14.4 million guaranteed (which he would sprint to sign), then they'd almost certainly end up trading him. Now Flynn gets to land a bigger contract on the open market.

Brandon Carr: The Chiefs decided to use their franchise tag on wideout Dwayne Bowe. That's a smart move, considering they signed cornerback Stanford Routt recently. But it also means that Carr, a 25-year-old defensive back coming off his best season in 2011, will have the chance to hit the open market. Young free-agent cornerbacks are a coveted commodity, and Carr should expect to get paid handsomely.

Stevie Johnson: The leverage of the guaranteed money involved with using the franchise tag on a wide receiver ($9.4 million) coupled with the deadline on Monday really escalated the talks with the Bills and Johnson, and he ended up netting a deal worth $7.25 million per year. That's not exactly on par with the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL, but

Losers

Wes Welker: The Pats could very well end up getting Wes Welker signed to a long-term deal, but he can't be happy about being put in a situation that could have him not reaching full free agency until he turns 32 (he'll turn 31 in May of this offseason) if the Patriots simply want him to play another year on the franchise-tag value. Welker would've hit a market that paid him handsomely and it might be difficult for the Patriots to pay him the money he wants over longer period of time. We could see a holdout here.

New Orleans Saints: As if things weren't bad enough for the Saints -- see here, here, here, here, here and, whew, here -- they're likely going to lose their top wide receiver (Marques Colston) and one of their top offensive linemen (Nicks) to free agency. Their quarterback (Drew Brees) is not happy with his contract situation, and losing two weapons like that won't do much to improve his mood. So once they get done with BountyGate, there should be plenty of more fun to deal with.

Cliff Avril
: Detroit should be thrilled that they bring Avril back, but that doesn't mean the defensive end has to be happy. He's not, because he knows he'd kill on the open market this season. He'll get more than $10 million guaranteed next year and that's why it seemed possible that the Lions could let him walk -- they've got more than half their salary cap tied up in Avril, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson next year. So there's some good news: the Lions very much would like to lock up Avril to a long deal.

Houston Texans
: The Texans locked up Arian Foster to a five-year deal that takes him through his 30-year-old season, which is perfect timing for a running back. But it's also giving a lot of money to a running back. (Foster is a tremendously talented guy, a perfect fit for what the Texans do, a great pass-blocker, a great pass-catcher and many other things. But he is still a running back.) On that same day, they were unable to secure Mario Williams, who was their No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Super Mario will become a free agent, and unless he's willing to take a serious discount to stay with the Texans, it's hard to fathom how they keep him.

Pittsburgh Steelers: It seemed like the Steelers decision to go on a cutting spree and get below the salary-cap line would result in them using the franchise tag on Mike Wallace, who's a restricted free agent. They didn't and because of a confluence of events, they could be in trouble. One, Stevie got $7.2 million a year just now. Two, Jackson and Colston will get big money in free agency. And three, various tags on other high-profile wide receivers will draw more interest for teams that could consider giving Wallace an offer sheet. He may very well end up staying with the Steelers, but there's at least reason to be concerned.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:18 pm
 

No franchise tag for Chargers WR Vincent Jackson

Jackson's time with Rivers might be at an end. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline for franchise came and went and Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson did not receive the franchise-tag designation, the team announced.

Jackson's arguably the top wideout on the market (though Marques Colston obviously has a case) but because the Chargers tagged him in 2011, another year would've been prohibitive, as the Chargers note it would have cost $13.7 million to franchise Jackson.

Now he'll hit the free-agent market, and he should get straight paid.

"We discussed it again this morning, and nothing changed," Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said Monday. "We did not like the franchise number, never did. Vincent will enter the market, and we will see what happens. We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture. We will now evaluate our contract proposal, and proceed accordingly."

The Chargers have stated repeatedly that they'd like Jackson back in 2012, and it's hard to blame them. Jackson recorded 1,000-plus yards in three of the past four years. The one year he didn't surpass 1,000 yards was in 2010, when a holdout and suspension resulted in him missing the first 11 games of the season.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 4:00 pm
 

Chiefs place franchise tag on wideout Dwayne Bowe

Bowe got the franchise tag from KC. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Chiefs placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe on Monday afternoon, the team announced.

"Today was the league’s deadline to designate a franchise player and we felt it was in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs to place the tag on Dwayne," Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said in a statement released by the team.

Bowe was one of many top-flight wide receivers who could hit free agency; that group has dwindled significantly over the past few days with franchise tags applied and new contracts signed.

The Chiefs top pass-catcher the past few years, Bowe seemed like a lock to receive the franchise designation once KC signed free-agent cornerback Stanford Routt. This likely means that cornerback Brandon Carr is headed for a big payday in free agency if he doesn't sign a long-term deal with the Chiefs.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 3:24 pm
 

Anthony Spencer gets franchise tag from Cowboys

The NFL denied Harrison's appeal of his one-game suspension(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday afternoon, the Cowboys officially placed the franchise tag on linebacker Anthony Spencer, the team announced. That means if Spencer signs the deal, he'll receive a one-year deal with a guaranteed $8.8 million in 2012.

As noted by our Cowboys Rapid Reporter Nick Eatman, the Cowboys "beat the NFL deadline to tag Spencer by nearly an hour." In other words, the Cowboys weren't locked into doing this like the Ravens were with Ray Rice.

Which is understandable: Spencer hasn't been entirely productive since the Cowboys drafted him with the 26th overall pick in the 2007 draft, recording just 21.5 sacks in that time. But he's a pass-rushing outside linebacker, and Dallas likely felt it would be difficult to retain or replace him. Spencer understands that, telling Eatman that it's a "good and bad thing" to get the franchise tag.

"That's a good thing and a bad thing," Spencer said. "It's good because it shows how much they think of me. But you don't want to be playing on a one-year contract. You want a longer deal and the security that gives your family. But hey, I understand. It's a business.''

Spencer would've attracted some interest on the market, for sure. And he'll probably attract some long-term interest from the Cowboys too: the Cowboys won't be thrilled at the idea of taking a cap hit of nearly $9 million.

And since Dallas until July 15 to work out a deal with Spencer, don't be surprised if they wait to see who they acquire in April's draft before deciding to pour money into such a deal.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:59 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 3:36 pm
 

Wes Welker franchise tagged by Patriots

Welker's been franchised by New England. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At one point in time, it seemed like the Patriots might let wideout Wes Welker test the free-agency market. When it seemed like the market for Welker's services would be busy, that tone changed and according to our Patriots Rapid Reporter Greg A. Bedard, the Pats have officially decided to place the franchise tag on Welker.

Earlier on Monday, Bedard reported that Welker would receive the tag some time around Monday afternoon, so the news that Welker's been hit with the tag isn't a huge surprise.

"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007," the Patriots said in a statement released by the team. "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."

The only issue for New England will be whether or not Welker's willing to sign his tender and play for a one-year contract that guarantees him $9.4 million.

As we've previously noted, Welker would very much like to receive longer deal that pays him in the same range as the other top wideouts in the NFL. Bedard points out that "both sides would prefer a multi-year contract."

The issue is whether or not the Patriots are willing to give Welker, who will turn 31-years-old in May, a deal that will carry him past the age of 35.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:34 pm
 

Stevie Johnson: Bounties are 'stupid, ridiculous'

Johnson's not a fan of NFL bounties. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Stevie Johnson, who got a brand-new, five-year contract from Buffalo on Monday, dropped by The Jim Rome Show on Monday to talk about his new deal.

While he was there, Rome also asked Johnson about the hottest story of the day, the Saints bounties. And Johnson called them "stupid" and "ridiculous," and think it goes against what NFL players work for in the first place.

"I think it's stupid," Johnson told Rome. "I don't understand why other players do that or even participate in something like that. We got in this league through blood, sweat and tears. We grinded our way to get in the position we're in and then you put out a bounty or a hit on somebody to injure them? I don't like it at all and I kind of get frustrated by it."

("ROME with Jim Rome" debuts on CBS Sports Network April 3rd. Follow Rome on Twitter @JimRome.)

Frankly, I couldn't agree more with Johnson. The NFL's a tough enough business without people purposely trying to injure players. When a defensive player blitzes a quarterback (or simply lines up to rush a quarterback), he's inherently already trying to do damage to that quarterback.

The idea that financial motivation is required for violent behavior is pretty sickening. Thankfully some players, like Johnson, aren't taking the "this happens everywhere" attitude towards bounties.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:21 pm
 

Safety Michael Griffin franchise tagged by Titans

Griffin, seen here tagging Lee Evans, got tagged himself on Monday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Tennessee Titans informed safety Michael Griffin that they would use their franchise tag on him, the team announced on Monday afternoon.

With the deadline for utilizing franchise tags (4 p.m. ET) fast approaching, the Titans faced a decision as to whether Griffin or cornerback Cortland Finnegan would receive the designation.

The team ultimately chose to tag Griffin, who will receive a guaranteed, one-year salary of $6.2 million if he signs his tender. Griffin's not always the most consistent player, but that's good value for a position that doesn't feature much available elite talent.

Griffin's the third safety to be tagged this offseason, with 49ers safety Dashon Goldson and Raiders safety Tyvon Branch already receiving the tag. (Keep up with all franchise tags by bookmarking our handy 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker.)

Franchising Griffin means that Finnegan is likely to hit the open market; Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that the Titans and Finnegan haven't had any serious talks about a long-term deal.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:08 am
Edited on: March 5, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Favre on Saints $10K bounty: 'I'm not pissed'

Favre got leveled more than once against New Orleans back in 2009. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

At the heart of BountyGate (and I'll personally pay someone $10 to knock that name out of play) is the 2009 NFC Championship Game, when the Saints beat Brett Favre and the Vikings. As reported by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma offered up $10,000 for anyone who knocked Favre out of the game.

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You'd think that news might upset Favre, but he told Sports Illustrated's Peter King that he was "not pissed" and that he respects Vilma as well as then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

"I'm not pissed," Favre said. "It's football. I don't think anything less of those guys. I would have loved to play with Vilma. Hell of a player. I've got a lot of respect for Gregg Williams. He's a great coach. I'm not going to make a big deal about it. In all honesty, there's a bounty of some kind on you on every play. Now, in that game there were some plays that, I don't want to say were odd, but I'd throw the ball and whack, on every play. Hand it off, whack. Over and over. Some were so blatant. I hand the ball to Percy Harvin early and got drilled right in the chin. They flagged that one at least.

"I've always been friends with Darren Sharper, and he came in a couple times and popped me hard. I remember saying, 'What THE hell you doing, Sharp?' I felt there should have been more calls against the Saints. I thought some of their guys should have been fined more.''

Favre did say, however, that he was glad the "truth comes out" now with respect to how the Saints behaved on the field, although he wouldn't exactly be compelled to serve as a witness in a court of law.

"Now the truth comes out. That's good. But that's football. The only thing that really pisses me off about the whole thing is we lost the game. That's the thing about that day that still bothers me. And that's the way it goes. If they wanted me to testify in court about this, they'd be calling the wrong guy."

It would be interesting to see whether or not Favre would meet with Roger Goodell, though. It's unlikely he would, and as a retired player, it's also unlikely Goodell and the league could compel him to take a trip to New York anyway.

But it's not like they have to: replays of the game against the Saints show countless instances where Favre took late shots. They were deemed "aggressive" at the time, but with the knowledge that there was a five-figure bounty on knocking Favre out, "malicious" seems like a better description.

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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