Through one day of the two-week franchise-tag period, no team has used it. Several reportedly won’t.
Add the Lions to the list of teams not inclined to play tag.
“We’re not going to franchise anybody,” G.M. Martin Mayhew recently said, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
It’s not a shock, despite three potential candidates for the restriction. It would take $12.4 million to use the tag for a second straight year on defensive end Cliff Avril. Safety Louis Delmas, while very effective when healthy, could be this decade’s Bob Sanders. And with a buyer’s market for tackles, it doesn’t make sense to plunk down $9.6 million for Gosder Cherilus.
The decision not to tag any of the looming free agents takes some steam out of the urgency to extend the contract of quarterback Matthew Stafford, whose cap number currently is parked at $20.8 million. Last year, the Lions chopped receiver Calvin Johnson’s cap number from $21 million to less than $11 million at a time when more than $10 million in 2012 cap dollars was earmarked for Avril.
This year, Avril, Delmas, and Cherilus will all hit the market when the clock strikes 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12. By the time the clock strikes midnight on March 13, the Lions could see one or more of them under contract with new teams.