On Monday, the NFL will close off the ability for teams to use the franchise tag. Until today, no team had opted for the tag. So far, two teams have now placed the tender on players. Neither of those teams are the Miami Dolphins. By Monday, they might be.
The Dolphins are one of the teams that could go either way. With Sean Smith and Jake Long set to hit free agency the Phins could try and keep one in Miami. The issue however is that both would bring a larger than warranted one year salary. Instead, the Dolphins appear more likely to use the tag on Randy Starks. IF they use it at all.
What is more unlikely is that the Dolphins will sign any of their impending free agents until after the 9th of March. At this point, it makes more sense for players to wait the remaining eight days and then see who calls and with what amount of money. On the 9th, teams can begin negotiating contracts with the agents for impending free agents. On the 12th, they can officially sign those players.
In the case of any player, waiting 8 days for the phone to ring could be a difference of a couple million dollars. For example if the Dolphins view Brian Hartline as a WR who should be paid in the 4 -5 range and Hartline sees himself as a 6-7 million dollar a year player, the 9th – 12th could be a blessing for both sides. In the case of Hartline, if the phone doesn’t ring then it could be an indication that his services are not considered a premium and he may instead turn towards the Dolphins in hopes of securing the best offer possible.
Once the 12th rolls around and that phone still doesn’t ring, a players value tends to spiral downwards. In the case of Miami’s free agents, the Dolphins could pull the plug on any dollar amounts offered and reduce those offers. Regardless, eyes will be on the Miami Dolphins this weekend as well as the other teams in the NFL to see who and where those franchise tags will fall.
Thus far, the Cincinnati Bengals have used their franchise tag on DE Michael Johnson and the Buffalo Bills have opted to use theirs on Safety Jarius Byrd.