Team-by-team look at who could be tagged


The annual window for application of the franchise and transition tag opens on Tuesday, providing teams with roughly two weeks to decide whether to apply either restriction on otherwise allowing the player to head to unrestricted free agency.

So it’s time for our annual (when we remember) look at the candidates for a tag on every team. The teams are grouped by division and conference.

Bills: Left tackle Cordy Glenn is the top, and perhaps only, candidate for the franchise tag. As teams strive to improve their ability to rush the passer, protecting for the passer becomes more important, too. Some will argue that the Bills should consider using the tag on guard Richie Incognito, who had a Pro Bowl year after returning from his NFL exile. But that’s a non-starter because there’s no separate category for guards; the franchise tag for any offensive lineman essentially becomes the franchise tag for left tackles, the highest paid members of the group.

Jets: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is the obvious choice. The question becomes how much they plan to invest in the defensive line over the long haul, given the presence of Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams. They presumably hope to keep quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but not at nearly $20 million for one year.

Dolphins: A premium will be placed on pass rushers, and defensive end Olivier Vernon is one of the few that will be available. The question for the Dolphins is whether that much money can be invested in Vernon, given the investment already made in Ndamukong Suh. Paying big money to Vernon, whether through the tag or a long-term deal, could result in the end of Cam Wake’s time with the team.

Patriots: There’s no one to tag this year.

Ravens: Kicker Justin Tucker makes the most sense for the tag, since the one-year salary is very reasonable in comparison to the open market. The only other alternative is guard Kelechi Osemele. As noted above, however, the absence of position-specific tags for interior offensive linemen means they’ll be paid like the highest-paid left tackles.

Bengals: Cincinnati has several key free agents who could qualify for the tag, including four key defensive backs: cornerback Pacman Jones, cornerback Leon Hall, safety George Iloka, and safety Reggie Nelson. Offensively, tackle Andre Smith and receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are due to hit the market. But will the Bengals feel compelled to give any of them the large, one-year salary that comes from the franchise tag? It’s possible the Bengals will view none of them as so irreplaceable that they should be tagged.

Browns: Safety Tashaun Gipson’s contract year wasn’t strong enough to justify an eight-year salary for 2016. Other candidates include tackle Mitchell Schwartz and receiver Travis Benjamin. Schwartz is the more likely of the two to be tagged, but it won’t be cheap for either guy. Two years ago, the Browns went the transition-tag route with center Alex Mack, and it resulted in an offer sheet from the Jaguars that, although matched by the Browns, gives Mack the ability to walk away this offseason.

Steelers: The Steelers have no impending free agents worthy of either tag.

Titans: One of the benefits of being 5-27 over the last two years is that there’s no reason to tag any of their free agents.

Texans: Punter Shane Lechler turns 40 later this year, but he still has a big leg — and a big role for a team that often needs to play the field-position game.

Colts: Tight ends Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener are headed to free agency, but does either guy merit the tag? Probably not. Kicker Adam Vinatieri also is headed to free agency, but because he has been tagged two prior times during his career he would be eligible for the quarterback level of the franchise tender. Which means he’s not getting tagged.

Jaguars: Punter Bryan Anger was drafted before franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. And that’s probably the only time the word “franchise” will ever be used in reference to Anger.

Chiefs: Safety Eric Berry, the 2015 comeback player of the year, is a guy the Chiefs very much want to keep. The question becomes whether they want him badly enough to apply the franchise tag.

Chargers: Safety Eric Weddle is the primary candidate, but it feels as if the bridges are obliterated based on some bizarre events between team and player from late in the season. Tight ends Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green also are due to hit the market, but it would be hard to justify tagging either, given the cost.

Raiders: Tackle Donald Penn is due to hit the market. With the Raiders forced to spend plenty of money to comply with the minimum spending requirements, maybe they’ll consider doing what they have to do to keep around a guy who has started 32 of 32 games with the Raiders. (Even so, it’s still highly unlikely.)

Broncos: Linebacker Von Miller is a no-brainer for the franchise tag, absent a new deal. The Broncos may have to use the exclusive version to prevent another team from loading up an offer sheet and gladly giving up a pair of first-round picks to get him. If they can get Miller signed, defensive lineman Malik Jackson could be tagged. Quarterback Brock Osweiler almost definitely won’t be, given that the $20 million for 2016 would become the starting point for a long-term deal.

Cowboys: None of the free agents justify the tag.

Eagles: They may want to keep quarterback Sam Bradford, but a one-year franchise tender of $20 million sets the stage for the kind of contract the Eagles would never want to give him.

Giants: Kicker Josh Brown was tagged once by the Seahawks in 2007. He can be tagged one more time before the quarterback tender would apply to him. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul could be tagged a second time, but that’s highly unlikely. Ditto for former first-rounder Prince Amukamara, who hasn’t done enough to merit being tagged a first time.

Washington: Quarterback Kirk Cousins becomes the primary candidate, if the team can’t get him re-signed. But at $20 million for one year, is Cousins really worth it? From his perspective, it makes sense to go year-to-year if tagged, since he’d be eligible for unrestricted free agency or a tag of $24 million in 2017. That’s $44 million over two years, far more than Washington (or anyone else) would offer on a long-term deal now.

Vikings: The good news for the Vikings is that they made the playoffs. The better news is that they have no key free agents that would require tagging this year.

Packers: Kicker Mason Crosby is the primary candidate. Perhaps the only candidate.

Bears: Receiver Alshon Jeffery could be tagged, but will the Bears want to invest eight figures in a guy who underachieved in 2015, and who some suggest wasn’t playing through injury in order to avoid racking up bad performances?

Lions: They’ve got no one worthy of tagging this year, even with two starting defensive linemen (defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and defensive end Jason Jones) due to hit the market.

Falcons: The Falcons have no free agents that would justify use of the tag.

Buccaneers: In 2015, the Bucs opted not to exercise the fifth-year option on running back Doug Martin’s contract. That makes it very hard to justify using the much more expensive franchise tag now.

Saints: There’s no one to tag; tight end Benjamin Watson would merit some debate, but not much given his age. With quarterback Drew Brees counting for $30 million in 2016, they need to save their money.

Panthers: Cornerback Josh Norman undoubtedly will be tagged absent a long-term deal.

Cardinals: Despite a 13-3 season, the Cardinals have no free agents worthy of the investment associated with the franchise tag.

Rams: Four key starters in the secondary are due to hit the market, and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins could be candidates for the tag. Kicker Greg Zuerlein also is a possibility, at a much lower investment.

Seahawks: Some have said that agent Russell Okung’s biggest fear is that tackle Russell Okung will be slapped with the franchise tag. Agent Russell Okung should welcome it, if he gets it. He won’t be getting it. Neither will linebacker Bruce Irvin. Punter Jon Ryan possibly could. The best news for the Seahawks is they won’t need it to keep quarterback Russell Wilson around.

49ers: Defensive tackle Ian Williams has become a reliable nose tackle, but it would be a shock if he’s tagged. Kicker Phil Dawson was tagged twice by the Browns; if the 49ers tag him, he’ll be entitled to quarterback money.

40 responses to “Team-by-team look at who could be tagged

  1. “lightninhopkins
    Feb 15, 2016, 1:38 PM EST
    It’s great how the “franchise” player tag is mostly used for kickers and punters. Such a broken system.”

    Is it? It’s a compromise to let teams have an option to retain impending free agents they deem necessary…at a price that a necessary player would receive.

    If they dont want to pay them the average of the top 5 at that position, then they obviously arent necessary, and can hit free agency to get a payday.

    Whats broken about it again?

  2. WE HAD A GOOD SIGNING IN SUH!!!!!! Yeah right. That was the dumbest thing…yeah lets F ourselves paying a guy who doesn’t get sacks, pick sixes, throw, catch or run for touchdowns. At least let him kick some pat’s. I can’t take it much longer!

  3. I don’t see Seattle tagging anybody as long as Schneider is GM. He’d as soon let an older star player walk and try to replace him with an undrafted free agent than overpay for a temporary solution. And probably be just fine.

  4. Seattle might tag Okung but that would be about it. It would be unfortunate to do so because the guy is a very skilled player who is hurt far too often. Irvin will probably walk even though he is willing to take the so-called “hometown discount.”

  5. LOL @ my colts. We have no one good enough to tag. Literally a QB and a couple decent wide receivers and a “pro bowl” safety in Mike Adams who actually rates below average on PFF stats. Awful roster. Thanks Grigson.

  6. it’s good that the tag is mostly used on kickers and punters because that means players are getting contracts. Players don’t want to be tagged

  7. Is it? It’s a compromise to let teams have an option to retain impending free agents they deem necessary…at a price that a necessary player would receive.

    If they dont want to pay them the average of the top 5 at that position, then they obviously arent necessary, and can hit free agency to get a payday.

    Whats broken about it again?


    I suppose the problem is that in combination with the salary cap, the current tag system means it’s very difficult for a team to maintain a legitimate roster for more than 1 or 2 seasons because it’s often financially prohibitive to keep your “good but not great” players.

    You need those players, but some desperate team is always going to throw a bunch of money at them, even if they aren’t top-5 talent. So your only options are over pay significantly to keep them via a tag or similarly bloated contract or let them walk, even though you spent all of the time/money actually developing that player.

    Therefore, you end up with lots of teams like the Giants, Texans, Colts, Chargers, etc. that have 2 or 3 great players, and then a bunch of nobodies. You also end up watching your own team churn nearly its entire roster every 3-5 years which I think kind of degrades the fan experience. I often feel like I’m rooting for nothing more than the logo on the side of their helmets because rosters change like it’s fantasy football. If you draft a guy and develop him into a star, you should be able to keep him without having to devote 1/6 of your cap to that one player. Individual player contracts are out of control and it’s hurting the game and the team dynamic.

  8. Rumor has it that last year Norman wanted $13M a year. Now, the tag for him will be $13M. C’mon, DG, give him 5 years & $70 million; he’s earned it. Then go get Eric Weddle when he hits the market.

    Then spend the draft getting the interior line and LB depth we need, and let’s make another Super Bowl run.

  9. I’m still holding out hope that Spanos, Telesco, and McCoy meet with Weddle to try and repair that relationship so he can finish his career as a Charger. Weddle leaving would just leave too big of a hole in the middle of the secondary when there are so many other needs to be filled on both lines and outside linebacker.

  10. Bengals should Tag Pacman if it comes to that. Nobody else is worth that kind of money.
    They have a recent history of letting certain players walk so they can get compensatory picks. They love those extra 3rd and 4th rounders. I see Andre Smith and Leon Hall being guys they let walk because they should get some decent picks for them and there are younger guys that were high picks waiting on the roster.

  11. I believe Buffalo will let Cordy Glenn walk… He was graded high in PFF, but will consume a large part of the salary spent on Offensive Lineman which the Bills put very little into with a mobile QB like Taylor.

  12. At 33 (by the time the season starts), I wouldn’t over-pay for Donald Penn. He seems like the kind of player who’s skill set will fall off the cliff quickly.

  13. I can not see Donald Penn being the highest paid Raiders next year….no way, no how….maybe , and I say maybe a two year deal at 15 million, but that is even pushing it.

  14. I’m half Native. I couldn’t care less about Redskins. People are too sensitive. Most Natives don’t care. It’s just the loud minority making a big deal because a bunch of white people told them they should be offended. Native Americans have much bigger issues to deal with like drugs and poverty on the reservations than a name of a sports team.

  15. “There’s no one to tag this year.” Nice!!

    Now release the PSI data gained over the past season, before the judge forces you to look like complete idiots once again, Commish!

  16. If they can’t reach an agreement the Bucs will tag Martin, the only reason they didn’t pick up his 5th year option was Lovie Smith is a moron and thank god cooler heads prevailed and fired his dumb ass

  17. djaehne says:
    Feb 15, 2016 7:48 PM
    Brock Osweiler starting at 20 million per year.
    Except he won’t be where he wants to be if he is on 20m.

    “I want to stay in Denver” –Brock Osweiler.

  18. danm1978 says:
    Feb 16, 2016 10:50 AM

    djaehne says:
    Feb 15, 2016 7:48 PM
    Brock Osweiler starting at 20 million per year.
    Except he won’t be where he wants to be if he is on 20m.

    “I want to stay in Denver” –Brock Osweiler.


    I think Denver can keep him by offering him a good deal structure, not necessarily top dollar.

    Guarantee more money than other teams would be willing to do.

  19. Is the cap starting to get high enough that it doesn’t matter? Meaning small market teams just can’t spend to the cap and big market teams can pay whomever they want?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.