2012 NFL Free Agents: Atlanta Falcons Likely to Franchise-Tag CB Brent Grimes

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IMarch 2, 2012

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 2: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, left, walks off the field next to Brent Grimes #20 of the Atlanta Falcons after warm ups before a game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 2, 2011 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Stephen Brashear /Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

One of the No. 1 priorities for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason was to make sure soon-to-be free agent cornerback Brent Grimes remained a member of the Falcons for the 2012 season and beyond.

While they may not have accomplished a long-term deal for Grimes, both ESPN's Adam Schefter and NFL Network's Jason La Canfora are reporting Friday that the Falcons will be slapping their franchise tag on their No. 1 cornerback.

Cornerbacks hold a $10.5 million cap number in 2012. NFL teams have until Monday, March 5 to apply the tag. 

During the 2011 season, Grimes unquestionably became the Falcons' top cornerback. 

According to Pro Football Focus, Grimes graded out as the NFL's No. 2 overall cornerback last season. Indeed, his overall numbers for the season were Darrelle Revis-esque.

He allowed just 25 receptions for 258 yards and two touchdowns over 16 games. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 61.2 passer rating when throwing at Grimes. What's more, he did it all while committing just one penalty and missing six tackles in 48 attempts.

If Grimes would have reached free agency, which begins on March 13, he would have likely received a monster contract offer from one of the league's cornerback-needy teams.

The Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have all offered Grimes big money to help fill their need at cornerback.

The franchise tag takes away the possibility of Grimes getting to free agency, or so it seems.  

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported later on Friday that Grimes is in no hurry to sign the franchise tender. 

“We have no plans to sign the tag at this time,” Ben Dogra, the agent for Grimes, told the Journal-Constitution's Orlando D. Ledbetter. “We hope to be able to continue to discuss [through] all the issues at the appropriate time.”

If that remains the case, the applied tag could serve as an extended period of negotiating for the two sides to come to an agreement on a long-term deal.

A multi-year contact would seemingly be the best route for both sides, as Grimes would get the contract security he desires and the Falcons a reprieve from some of the $10.5 million owed on a franchise tag. They could use that money to continue putting in resources towards signing other free agents on the roster, such as middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive end John Abraham.

Either way, it looks like the Falcons will have Grimes' services for at least another season.