The window for using the franchise or transition tags opened 11 days ago. It closes in three. So far, not a single player has been tagged.
With time still left to try to negotiate long-term deals before application of the tag, it makes sense to wait those three additional days. After that, however, time could be on the side of the players who are tagged.
With no further injury risk (other than the day-to-day risk of off-field trauma), players who are tagged can wait until after the market opens to see how much money is spent on other players. If, for example, the Lions don’t (and they shouldn’t) tag defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, why wouldn’t the other elite, game-changing players who merit application of the tag wait to see what Suh gets before negotiating a long-term deal?
There’s another reason to wait. Two words: Sammy Watkins.
Last year, the Bills gave up the ninth pick in the 2014 draft, a first-round pick in 2015, and a fourth-round pick in 2015 to get an unproven receiver. There’s already talk that one or more teams will at least consider signing a franchise-tagged player to an offer sheet and giving up a pair of first-round picks, especially if this year’s first-round pick falls at the bottom of the round.
Alternatively, a team can wait until after the 2015 draft to sign a franchise-tagged player to an offer sheet. Then, the compensation if the offer isn’t matched would be first-round picks in 2016 and 2017.
Sure, it would cost a lot more to sign the franchise-tagged player than it costs to sign a first-round pick. But for teams hoping to win now, the combination of draft picks and cash could merit taking rolling the dice and rolling out the green carpet.