Today is expected to be a big day for some NFL teams as they commit to a lot of money on one player. Teams with high-profile players hoping to become free agents may find out today they are being “franchise tagged”. Already, Philadelphia has used the tag on WR DeSean Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are expected to tag RB Ray Rice. Teams have until Monday COB to apply the tags.
So why would today be a more likely tag day? Teams rarely try and do major business on the weekends in the off-season and negotiating a new salary is often a task that can take quite awhile. Furthermore, if teams fail to land a new deal for a player they wish to keep, waiting until Monday could push them close to the deadline where a simple reporting mistake could put the player on the free agent market.
It will be interesting to see if teams like the Green Bay Packers who have said they will not likely use the tag on Matt Flynn will have a change of heart. How many other teams decide to use the tag remains to be seen. The New Orleans Saints are a team that would like to use the tag but a hiccup in their Drew Brees negotiations is creating a problem.
Impending free agent guard Carl Nicks is sitting idly by waiting to find out if he is tagged, the problem is that the Saints need to make a move on Drew Brees first. Currently reports are surfacing that the two sides are about 5 million dollars apart…per year. That is a huge amount of money that needs to be negotiated and it appears that both the Saints who are underestimating Brees’ monetary value and Brees who is likely overestimating his, have a long way to go. The Saints could decide to franchise Brees and work out a long terms deal without having to worry about him jumping ship (something no one believes will happen) but if they go that route, they are almost certainly going to lose Nicks.
The team can’t really negotiate with Nicks at the moment until they are certain how much of the cap will be used on Brees, making the negotiations much more important and timely.
In Philly where Jackson was tagged, DJax has stated he will likely sign his tag as soon as possible. The Eagles could still trade Jackson but the team would have to either A: negotiate a long term deal or B: assume the tagged price tag for the 2012 season.
In Houston, eyes are watching the Mario Williams situation. The Buffalo Bills may target Williams as their big free agent signing but the Texans would like to keep him in Houston. The problem seems to lie with RB Arian Foster who is a restricted free agent. Other teams can try and sign Foster and the Texans would be able to match. Tagging Williams would make it more difficult for the Texans to compete in that market and a franchise tag for Williams still means another team could sign him away for a first round draft pick under the new CBA rules. Previously it was a 1st and 3rd.
Other notables expecting to be tagged today are San Francisco FS Dashon Goldston and DE Cliff Avril of the Detroit Lions. Atlanta has already tagged DB Brent Grimes and the Raiders who are in major cap trouble have tagged SS Tyvon Branch. The Raiders are approximately 20 million dollars over the cap and will need to make a move on DL’man Kameron Wimbley who is due a 17 million dollar roster bonus on the 17th. The Titans are now also expected to tag CB Courtland Finnegan.
Of course eyes are still locking on the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning who is due a 23 million dollar roster bonus in 6 days.
In Pittsburgh, the Steelers are cutting ties with long-time veterans in an attempt to get closer to the soon to be salary cap. They have let Hines Ward go, will be releasing ILB James Farrior, have informed DE Aaron Smith that he won’t be back and still need to make more moves. In Cleveland, the Browns are setting themselves up to be in the market for a running back as it appears they are set and ready to let Peyton Hillis leave VIA free agency.
The Browns are also reportedly thinking about Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill to compete with Colt McCoy although no one expects them to use the pick at number 4 to get him. Cleveland appears to be moving out of the RGIII sweepstakes leaving Washington as the only team still willing to part with the bevy of picks that the St. Louis Rams are seeking. Cleveland could target Tannehill at number 22 if he is still on the board later in round 1.