2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker: Tracking Every Tag Applied so Far

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 5, 2012

2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker: Tracking Every Tag Applied so Far

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    It's franchise-tag Monday! March 5 is the deadline for NFL teams to assign one of two tags: a non-exclusive tag that allows them to match any offer and receive two first-round picks as compensation should a player depart, or an exclusive-rights tag that gives them sole rights to negotiate with the player they designate.

    A number of NFL teams have already designated their franchise players.

    Here's a look at who has been tagged and what it means for both the players and their organizations.

Arizona Cardinals: Calais Campbell, DE

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    Tag Amount: $10.6 million

    Defensive end Calais Campbell became one of the mainstays of the Cardinals' 3-4 defense last season, racking up 72 tackles and eight sacks.

    It made a ton of sense for Arizona to lock up the 25-year-old Campbell while the two sides continue to negotiate a long-term extension.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes, CB

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    Tag Amount: $10.6 million

    The Atlanta Falcons' franchise tagging of cornerback Brent Grimes shows the premium placed on defensive backs in today's pass-happy NFL. The move also signals that linebacker Curtis Lofton and defensive end John Abraham will be hitting the open market.

    However, the drama may not be over yet, as Grimes' agent told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the 28-year-old “has no plans to sign the tag at this time.”

Baltimore Ravens: Ray Rice, RB

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    Tag Number: $7.7 million

    It was widely expected that the Baltimore Ravens would franchise tag star running back Ray Rice—who gained more than 2,000 total yards two years ago—if the two sides couldn't agree to terms on a long-term extension by Monday's deadline.

    Regardless, the tag was likely meant to buy more time to negotiate as much as anything, much like the Ravens did with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata a year ago. 

Chicago Bears: Matt Forte, RB

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    Tag Amount: $7.7 million

    Much like the Ravens, the Chicago Bears weren't about to let running back Matt Forte hit the open market, as the four-year veteran accounted for nearly half the Bears offense before a knee injury cut short his season.

    The two sides will undoubtedly continue to attempt to reach an agreement on a long-term extension, so tagging Forte was most likely just a ploy by the Chicago front office to buy time. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Mike Nugent, PK

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    Tag Amount: $2.6 million

    One of a number of kickers that received the franchise tag over the past several days, Mike Nugent getting tagged says more about the Bengals' unwillingness to use the tag on a more expensive position.

    Nugent getting the tag also means that running back Cedric Benson, who topped 1,000 rushing yards last year, and safety Reggie Nelson, who logged a career-high 85 tackles a season ago, will be testing the free-agent waters come March 13.

Cleveland Browns: Phil Dawson, PK

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    Tag Amount: $3.9 million

    For the second consecutive season, the Cleveland Browns have elected to place the franchise tag on 37-year-old kicker Phil Dawson. His $3.9 million tag number will place him among the National Football League's highest-paid kickers.

    Tagging Dawson also means that the Browns chose to pass on paying running back Peyton Hillis nearly $8 million in 2012. The four-year veteran will now have to convince prospective suitors that his nightmarish 2011 campaign was an aberration.

Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer, OLB

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    Tag Amount: $8.8 million

    In one of the more puzzling franchise tag moves of the day, the Dallas Cowboys applied their tag to sixth-year linebacker Anthony Spencer, who will now receive an excess of $8 million in 2012.

    Spencer is a solid pro with 21.5 career sacks that headlined a shallow group of free agents in Big D, but it still seems like Jerry Jones and the Cowboys overpaid for a player that's far from elite for fear that he would depart from Dallas. 

Denver Broncos: Matt Prater, PK

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    Tag Number: $2.6 million

    Let's keep those kickers coming!

    With no huge names set to hit free agency, it made plenty of sense for the Broncos to franchise their big-legged kicker. Prater hit a number of clutch field goals for the Broncos last season and led the National Football League with a 69.6 touchback percentage on kickoffs.

Detroit Lions: Cliff Avril, DE

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    Tag Number: $11 million

    The Detroit Lions are in a rather precarious salary-cap situation and worked throughout the weekend to try to come to terms on a long-term deal with Avril, who tallied 11 sacks last year. But with the tag deadline rapidly approaching, the Lions found themselves backed into a corner and were left little recourse but to bite the bullet and tag the talented pass-rusher.

    Tagging Avril will keep the 26-year-old in the fold, but unless the Lions can free up some cap space, it likely spells the end of the line in Motown for middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch. 

Indianapolis Colts: Robert Mathis, DE

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    Tag Amount: $11 million

    This one isn't official yet, but ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted that unless the Indianapolis Colts and defensive end Robert Mathis reach an agreement on a contract extension by Monday's franchise tag deadline, Mathis will join Avril in the land of the tagged.

    This move isn't going to make the 10th-year pro very happy, but it makes sense for the Colts, who may want to see how Mathis transitions to the new "hybrid" defense in Indy before ponying up a big extension.

    UPDATE: ESPN reported later Monday that the Colts and Mathis have agreed to terms on a long term deal that apparently answers any questions about where he'll play for the foreseeable future, although it still remains to be seen how Mathis will fit into a 3-4 defensive front.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Josh Scobee, PK

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    Tag Amount: $2.6 million

    The Jacksonville Jaguars' decision to tag kicker Josh Scobee may have solved one problem for the Jaguars, but it creates a bevy of others.

    Defensive end Jeremy Mincey, who led the team in sacks in 2011, may now be headed out of Florida in free agency.

Kansas City Chiefs: Dwayne Bowe, WR

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    Tag Amount: $9.4 million

    Given that Dwayne Bowe has topped 1,000 receiving yards three of the past four years it was no big surprise to see the Kansas City Chiefs tag the five year veteran, who is one of the team's top playmakers on offense.

    Now just imagine what he might look like with a rather large foreheaded quarterback slinging passes in his direction in 2012. Just sayin'.

New England Patriots: Wes Welker, WR

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    Tag Amount: $9.4 million

    In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, the New England Patriots will place the franchise tag on star wide receiver Wes Welker, who topped 1,500 receiving yards a season ago. The move is presumably a tactic to buy more time to negotiate a long-term contract.

    Given Welker's importance to the New England offense, there was zero chance the Patriots would risk the eight-year veteran leaving. However, the tag does the beg the question of how the Patriots will approach other free agents like cornerback Kyle Arrington.

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees, QB

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    Tag Amount: $14.4 million

    After a weekend rife with reports that negotiations between Brees and the Saints on a long-term contract were going nowhere overshadowed by the growing "player bounty" scandal in the Big Easy, the Saints slapped the exclusive-rights franchise tag on the NFL's single-season passing yardage record holder.

    Not only will this likely not sit well with Brees, but it also opens the door for two prominent parts of the Saints' prolific offense to depart, as guard Carl Nicks and wide receiver Marques Colston now seem headed for the open market.

New York Giants: Steve Weatherford, P

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    Tag Amount: $2.6 million

    It's far from a sexy existence for punters in the National Football League, but a good punter's effect of field position can't be underestimated, and apparently the New York Giants agree, as they slapped their franchise tag on punter Steve Weatherford, making the 29 year-old one of the richest players in the league at his position.

Oakland Raiders: Tyvon Branch, S

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    Tag Amount: $6.2 million

    Strong safety Tyvon Branch has been a mainstay of the Oakland defense throughout his four-year career, topping 100 total tackles each of the past three seasons, so it was important that the new regime in Oakland keep the thumper on board.

    Tagging Branch almost certainly signals the end of running back Michael Bush's days with the Raiders, as the bruising back will probably command more money on the open market than Oakland can afford to pay.

Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson, WR

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    Tag Amount: $9.4 million

    After a disastrous 2011 season that saw Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson do more grousing off the field than producing on it, it made sense for the Eagles to use the franchise tag on him. The 25-year-old now has a season to redeem himself before the team considers inking him to a lucrative long-term extension.

San Francisco 49ers: Dashon Goldson, S

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    Tag Amount: $6.2 million

    Safety Dashon Goldson had one of the best years of his career in 2011, as the fifth-year pro notched a career-high six interceptions as the 49ers advanced the NFC Championship game.

    Goldson and the 49ers may still come to terms on a long-term extension, but Goldson's receiving the franchise tag casts a bit of doubt over the future of quarterback Alex Smith (who will almost certainly stay) and cornerback Carlos Rogers (who most likely won't, given the market for defensive backs).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Connor Barth, PK

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    Tag Amount: $2.6 million

    Kicker Connor Barth has developed into one of the most dependable players at his position, as the fourth-year pro ranked second in the league last year in field-goal-conversion percentage.

    The Buccaneers don't really have any free agents of note, so it made sense for the team to go ahead and lock up Barth with a modest pay raise of about $800,000. 

Tennessee Titans: Michael Griffin, S

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    Tag Amount: $6.2 million

    Although safety Michael Griffin has sometimes been inconsistent during his five-year NFL career, the former Texas standout has also shown flashes of brilliance, topping 100 tackles in 2010 and being named to two Pro Bowls.

    Griffin's retention by the Titans makes it much more likely that cornerback Cortland Finnegan has played his last game with the Titans. Negotiations between Finnegan and the team have been lukewarm at best, and the 28-year-old will probably command a pretty penny on the open market.

Washington Redskins: Fred Davis, TE

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    Tag Amount: $5.4 million

    The Washington Redskins were well-served to lock up the services of tight end Fred Davis, as the 26-year-old emerged as one of the Redskins' most dependable receiving threats last year. Davis appeared well on his way to his first 1,000-yard season before a suspension cost him the last four games of 2011.

    The one-year deal minimizes the Redskins' risk should Davis run afoul of Roger Goodell again, but in tagging Davis, Washington now faces the sticky situation of what to do about defensive stalwart London Fletcher. The veteran linebacker would be a fairly hot commodity should he hit free agency.

Players Who Weren't Tagged and Why

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    There were quite a few prominent players that saw the deadline come and go, including these standouts:

    Matt Flynn, QB, Green Bay Packers: There were rumors that the Packers might try to tag and trade Flynn after re-upping tight end Jermichael Finely, but in the end it appeared that $14 million was too big a gamble for Green Bay to take.

    Carl Nicks, OG, New Orleans Saints: Nicks may be the biggest (both literally and figuratively) prize in all of free agency after the Saints used the tag on Brees.

    Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego Chargers: Given the acrimony that has developed between Jackson and the San Diego front office the past few years and the $11 million it would have cost to tag him it appears the Chargers have decided to at the very least let Jackson test the open market.

    Marques Colston, WR, New Orleans: The Saints may well live to regret tagging Brees, as either Nicks or Colston will almost certainly leave, and either would be a significant loss.

    Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis: With Peyton Manning likely leaving and the Colts in full-on rebuilding mode I think Reggie Wayne made it very clear that he's just as ready to move on as the Colts are to begin their youth movement.

    Mario Williams, OLB, Houston Texans: Williams' franchise tag number would have been in the area of $22 million, and there was just no way the Texans could pay that, so let the bidding begin!

    Brandon Carr, CB, Kansas City Chiefs: With Dwayne Bowe tagged and the signing of free agent Stanford Routt it looks like Carr will be hitting the market, and interest should be robust.