2012 NFL Franchise Tag - Potential Targets
During the Franchise Tag Period, NFL teams can designate one player with an expiring contract to receive a one-year contract at a set rate rather than negotiating a longer term deal or allowing the player to become a free agent. Teams have until March 5 to use their 2012 franchise tag.
Franchise Tags have come down in cost across the board this year under the terms of the NFL's new CBA so teams will have plenty of reason to use the tag. Many players have already been tagged but there are still plenty of team's that have not used the tag. Check our breakdown below to see your team's potential fits for this season.
For a primer on the rules of the Franchise Tag click here.
2012 Franchise Tag Values:
QB - $14.4 million ($16.1 million in 2011)
RB - $7.7 million ($9.6 million in 2011)
WR: $9.4 million (11.4 million in 2011)
TE: $5.4 million ($7.3 million in 2011)
OL (average): $9.4 million ($10.1 million in 2011)
DE: $10.6 million ($13 million in 2011)
DT: $7.9 million ($12.5 million in 2011)
LB: $8.8 million ($10.1 million in 2011)
CB: $10.6 million ($13.5 million in 2011)
S: $6.2 million ($8.8 million in 2011)
Potential targets for teams yet to have used the tag:
New England Patriots
Potential Candidate: WR Wes Welker
Notes: Losing Welker isn't really an option for the Patriots. Welker led the league with 122 receptions last season, was second in receiving yards with 1,569 and is perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady in the New England offence. He will likely wind up signing a longer team deal but in the meantime the Patriots will put the tag on him. If they don't they open themselves to the chance that a team will throw an absurd amount of money at him and he won't be able to say no.
New York Jets
Potential Candidate: NT Sione Pouha
Notes: The Jets don't have a lot of room under the cap and can't really afford any key defections on defence. Pouha has been a key part of their defensive line since 2009 and is an excellent run-stopper. If they were to use the tag on Pouha it would cost them around $8 million this season. That number could be tough for the Jets though so they may be more inclined to try and work something out long term.
Potential Candidate: NT Paul Soliai
Notes: Not a likely scenario for the Dolphins with Soliai. Miami used their franchise tag on him a year ago and to do so again would mean they have to pay him 120% of his salary from last season. That would equal about a $15 million payday for Soliai.The Dolphins aren't likely to pony up that kind of money for Soliai so expect him to hit free agency. However, stranger things have happened.
Potential Candidate: WR Stevie Johnson
Notes: The Bills have exchanged contract proposals with their dynamic wide receiver but apparently the two sides are very far apart. That could mean the franchise tag comes into play if they can't work out a long-term deal. The Bills have the cap space to afford it and really can't afford to lose a talented palymaker.
Potential Candidate: WR Mike Wallace
Notes: The Steelers are in a bind when it comes to room under the cap. That makes the decision on what to do with Wallace a difficult one. They could make some other roster moves and clear the space to put the $9.4 million franchise tag on him. However, since Wallace is an RFA the Steelers could also put a restricted tender on him and pay him $2.7 million this season. That route would open it up for other teams to sign Wallace to an offer sheet though. The Steelers could match but like we said, they have limited cap space.
Potential Candidate: RB Arian Foster
Notes: Foster is in a similar situation as Mike Wallace in Pittsburgh as an RFA. The Texans could use a first-round tender on him but another team could then make a run at him. A $7.7 million franchise tag would be a big pay boost for Foster and still be a decent deal for the Texans given their star running back's ability. Another free agent the Texans really want to sign is Mario Williams. The franchise tag isn't an option there though as it would cost the Texans $22 million, a figure they just can't afford.
Potential Candidate: CB Cortland Finnegan
Notes: Finnegan has been a steady cover corner over his career with the Titans. The free agent market for corners isn't great this season so Finnegan would undoubtedly get interest from other teams if he were to hit the open market. That also means it could be difficult for the Titans to replace him if he did walk. At the very least, the Titans will have to seriously consider putting the tag on Finnegan.
Potential Candidate: K Josh Scobee
Notes: Scobee was lights out for the Jaguars last season connecting on 92% of his field goal attempts. At 29, he is in his prime as a kicker and if the Jaguars can't work out a deal the franchise tag is not a bad option for either side.
Potential Candidate: DE Robert Mathis, WR Reggie Wayne
Notes: Mathis clearly still has a lot of good football in him and if he hits the open market, will likely be the top pass-rusher available. However, he is getting up there in age and may not be a good fit for a team looking to rebuild. Wayne is also getting up their in age and while he clearly still has the game to play it might be better for the Colts to cut ties.
Potential Candidate: K Matt Prater
Notes: Forget Tim Tebow, Prater hit some absolutely huge kicks for the Broncos this season and without him the team may not make their run to the playoffs. He is good at what he does regardless of the Mile High air in Denver and the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.
San Diego Chargers
Potential Candidate: WR Vincent Jackson
Notes: It's understandable that the Chargers would not want to use the franchise tag on Jackson for a second straight year since it would mean a $13.7 million payday (120% of his 11.4 million from a year ago). The Chargers want to keep Jackson but that is alot of guaranteed money. Losing Jackson could be worse though so if a deal isn't done before March 5 the tag becomes a very real possibility.
Kansas City Chiefs
Potential Candidate: WR Dwayne Bowe
Notes: With the signing of free agent corner Stanford Routt is a likely signal that Brandon Carr's time with the Chiefs is over. That leaves Bowe as the likely candidate for KC's franchise tag. Bowe has established himself as a No. 1 receiver with the Chiefs and is coming off back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. The Chiefs don't want him leaving town.
New York Giants
Potential Candidate: WR Mario Manningham
Notes: Mario Manningham is a solid receiver and alot of other teams would probably merit more consideration for the tag with his expiring contract. However, the Giants have good depth at receiver with Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks ahead of him on the depth chart. $9.4 million isn't cheap for a third receiver.
Potential Candidate: LB Anthony Spencer
Notes: Spencer is the only real option for the tag in Dallas. The question is whether the former first round pick is worth the $8.8 million hit. His statline isn't great but he has the confidence of head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys don't have anyone waiting in the wings to take his spot.
Green Bay Packers
Potential Candidate: QB Matt Flynn
Notes: The Packers opened up the possibility of tagging Flynn when they signed their other potential candidate in TE Jermichael Finley to an extension. What the Packers would really be looking do with Flynn is put the tag on him and then work out a trade rather than simply having him leave via free agency. The downside is that if there are no trade takers they are stuck paying $14.4 million for a backup.
Potential Candidate: DE Cliff Avril
Notes: The Lions most pressing issue is locking up Calvin Johnson long tem. Once that is done, the focus will then shift to what to do with Avril. Franchising him could be a desirable option for the Lions who want to keep him around and would like maintain exclusivity in negotiating a longer deal. However, Avril has already gone on record and said that he does not want to be franchised and could consider holding out.
Potential Candidate: LB Erin Henderson
Notes: Henderson is likely the Vikings most valuable pending free agent. However, the price for the franchise tag is just too steep. The team is likely better served negotiating a longer term deal at a better rate. Don't expect the Vikings to use their tag.
Potential Candidate: N/A
Notes: If the Panthers use their franchise tag it will be a big surprise. None of their pending free agents would be good fits for the tag.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Potential Candidate: K Connor Barth
Notes: Barth is a stretch for the tag but stranger things have happened. That said, don't expect the Bucs to use their tag on anyone.
Potential Candidate: RB Marshawn Lynch
Notes: The Seahawks and Lynch are working on getting a long-term deal done before March 5. The team won't let him go to free agency though if a deal can't be worked out and will use their tag on him. Lynch is coming off his most productive year as a pro, having run for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns in 15 games.
St. Louis Rams
Potential Candidate: N/A
Notes: There is no one worth even mentioning as a longshot for the tag from the Rams. The team will not be using one this year.