With Super Bowl XLVII officially in the books, the NFL turns all its attention to the 2013 offseason. One area of keen interest is to determine how many teams will employ their franchise tag in 2013, and which players will receive it.
At first blush, it appears there will be fewer franchise tags in 2013 than the 21 that were applied in 2012. If 21 seems like a lot, remember that six of them went to either a kicker or a punter.
The first time that a team can place the franchise tag on a player is on Feb. 18. Teams have until March 4 to finalize to whom they are awarding the franchise tag.
After removing the players with the franchise tags, NFL teams can begin negotiations with the agents of the remaining free-agent players during a three-day window that runs from March 9-11.
When free agency begins for real at 4:00 p.m. EST on March 12, the agents will already have a decent feel for what kind of potential offers will be available for their clients. That is why you saw a number of deals go down in the first day of free agency in the 2012 offseason.
While most teams have a number of players that will become free agents in March, our goal here is to identify the one key free agent that they will most likely target with a franchise tag. If the team doesn't appear to truly need to use the franchise tag this year, we will acknowledge that as well.