Breaking Down Packers Franchise Tag Decisions

Michael DulkaContributor IFebruary 18, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 30:  Wide receiver Greg Jennings #85 of the Green Bay Packers looks on prior to the start of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on September 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers have rarely used the franchise tag in recent years. Since GM Ted Thompson took over in 2005, the team has only used the franchise tag twice. With the deadline looming for applying the franchise tag, the Packers are once again unlikely to use the tag. 

In 2006, they used the tag on Corey Williams and then traded him to the Cleveland Browns. In 2010, Ryan Pickett was tagged, but later agreed to a long-term deal with the Packers to avoid the high price of the tag. 

Looking at the Packers roster, the only real option for using the tag would be to use it on Greg Jennings. While the Packers don't intend to keep Jennings, they could still apply the tag and try to trade Jennings. Instead of letting Jennings get to the open market, the Packers would be able to control the market and hope to get a high draft pick in return. 

It would be a fairly risky move, but the reward would be a significant draft pick. 

There is little-to-no chance that the Packers tag Jennings with the intention of keeping him for 2013. They have the playmakers to do well without him. The team is also trying to reduce their payroll with big extensions likely upcoming for Aaron Rodgers, B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews. 

The biggest question is whether or not the Packers would actually take on the risk in tagging Jennings. Another team would likely need to be absolutely in love with Jennings and need to have already had talks with the Packers regarding a potential trade. 

How the Packers handled Matt Flynn's departure last season would suggest that the Packers won't take on the risk of tagging Jennings. The Packers could have tagged Flynn and forced a team to trade for him instead of being able to sign him as a free agent.

If the Packers weren't able to trade Flynn, he would have been owed the ridiculously high-tag price for quarterbacks. They decided it was better to let him walk and take the compensation picks from the NFL instead. 

With Jennings, the risk isn't as high because the price for wide receivers isn't the same as quarterbacks. That said, Jennings would still be owed over $10 million. With the free-agent class having plenty of talented wide receivers, the market has yet to be established. 

If the Packers tag Jennings and can't move him, the team would be stuck paying the expensive salary. This would erase the cap space created by releasing Charles Woodson. This could hurt the Packers in any other moves they would like to make this offseason. 

While it's an interesting idea for the Packers to ponder, it wouldn't be in-line with the smart financial decisions for which the Packers' front office is known. Therefore, it's unlikely that the Packers use their franchise tag this season.