2013 NFL Free Agency: Predicting Whether Each NFL Team Will Use a Franchise Tag

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 20, 2013

2013 NFL Free Agency: Predicting Whether Each NFL Team Will Use a Franchise Tag

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    The 2013 NFL free-agency period is approaching, and as of Feb. 18, every NFL team is allowed to use its franchise tag to retain its most important player. 

    The question now is, which NFL teams will use the franchise tag?

    Last year, a jaw-dropping 21 teams used the franchise tag on a key player. This year may not have such a high number, but there are many situations where the tag could come into play if contact negotiations fail. 

    Teams have two weeks to designate a franchise player. The tag is a risky investment because it eats up a large chunk of the salary cap while allowing the team to keep a designated player. It is a risk-reward scenario that each team has to deal with every offseason and will likely use the two-week period to decide.

    The franchise tag period has just begun, but let's take a moment to predict whether each team will use its tag.  

Franchise Tag Numbers

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    According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the franchise tag numbers have been tentatively set for the 2013 season, and will be finalized in March. Here are the numbers (in millions) Rapoport reports the tentative numbers were sent out to teams in December: 

    CB: Franchise: $10.668         Transition: $8.939

    DE: Franchise: $10.984         Transition: $8.994

    DT: Franchise: $8.306           Transition: $6.919

    K/P: Franchise: $2.926         Transition: $2.654

    LB: Franchise: $9.455           Transition: $8.216

    OL: Franchise: $9.660           Transition: $8.560

    QB: Franchise: $14.642         Transition: $12.845

    RB: Franchise: $8.079           Transition: $6.851

    S: Franchise: $6.798             Transition: $5.899

    TE: Franchise: $5.962            Transition: $5.105

    WR: Franchise: $10.357        Transition: $8.716

    Bleacher Report's very own Russell Baxter provided a detailed guide to franchise tags that explains the difference between the franchise tag, and the transition, or "non exclusive" tag. Players hit with the transition tag can sign with other NFL team, but the team they sign with must forfeit two first-round picks. 

Arizona Cardinals

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    2012 Tag Recipient: DE Calais Campbell.  

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None. 

     

    The Arizona Cardinals find themselves in a precarious salary-cap situation thanks to a variety of bad contacts. Luckily for the franchise, it does not have a lot of quality free agents set to hit the market anyway. 

    According to AzCardinals.com, the two key free agents for the Cardinals this offseason are running back LaRod Stephens-Howling and cornerback Greg Toler—both who are quality depth for the team and should be easy enough to sign to a long-term deal. 

    A year ago the Cardinals broke the bank by slapping defensive end Calais Campbell with the tag. This year it looks as if the Cardinals will forgo using it. 

     

    Verdict: No tag.

Atlanta Falcons

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    2012 Tag Recipient: CB Brent Grimes.   

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: S William Moore, T Sam Baker.

     

    The Atlanta Falcons have a variety of important free agents heading to the open market. Safety William Moore, tackle Sam Baker and tight end Tony Gonzalez are the headliners of the class. 

    Baker finally flashed some potential in 2012, which makes him a candidate. According to ajc.com, the Falcons and Baker are likely to agree on a long-term deal since he will not command top dollar in what is a deep tackle class this year. 

    That leaves Moore, with Gonzalez unsure whether he is going to retire. Moore is a three-year starter who has developed into one of the better players at his position. 

    According to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, Moore wants to test the open market. It is a safe bet the Falcons will not allow him to do so this year, just like they did with cornerback Brent Grimes in 2012. 

     

    Verdict: Falcons Tag William Moore ($6.798 million).

Baltimore Ravens

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    2012 Tag Recipient: RB Ray Rice.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: QB Joe Flacco, OT Bryant McKinnie, S Ed Reed.

     

    The Baltimore Ravens have a big problem this offseason. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is set to hit the open market, as is safety Ed Reed and a man who played a large (pardon the pun) role in the championship run itself—tackle Bryant McKinnie. 

    Luckily for the Ravens, things should play out just fine. 

    McKinnie will likely sign for cheap, as the open market is not going to pay a hefty tag for a 33-year-old lineman who strung together a few nice games. 

    According to ESPN, the Ravens are not willing to use the tag on Reed, but believe that he will re-sign with the team in the near future for an affordable price. 

    That leaves Flacco. Both sides are communicating (CBS) but a safe bet would be the Ravens using the tag and then working out a long-term deal at a later date. Baltimore cannot afford to flirt with the idea of Flacco hitting the open market, plain and simple. 

     

    Verdict: Ravens tag QB Joe Flacco ($10.668 million). 

Buffalo Bills

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: S Jairus Byrd, OG Andy Levitre.

     

    The Buffalo Bills have two star players set to hit the free-agent market in safety Jairus Byrd and guard Andy Levitre, so the question becomes—which one does the franchise value more?

    On one hand, you have Byrd, who is an elite safety and arguably the best at his position. On the other, you have Levitre, who is far and away the best guard hitting the open market and has been the model of consistency and quality throughout his career. 

    According to Jerry Sullivan via Twitter, Levitre intends on testing the open market. Conversely, it has been reported that Byrd and the Bills are going to discuss a contract at the upcoming scouting combine (AP). 

    If the Bills are smart, they will give Byrd whatever he desires. It is not often you find an elite playmaker in the secondary, especially in what is now a pass-happy league. That leaves Levitre to get slapped with the franchise tag rather than allowing him to test the market. 

     

    Verdict: Bills tag OG Andy Levitre ($9.660 million). 

Carolina Panthers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None. 

     

    The Carolina Panthers do not have a lot in the way of important free agents. Receiver Louis Murphy is someone the team would like to lock up but should not have any issues doing so. 

    Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn is a name being tossed around as a franchise-tag candidate, but after being demoted in favor of a fifth-round rookie in Josh Norman last year, there is no chance he gets hit with the tag.

    Finally, defensive tackle Dwan Edwards is a free agent the team would like to retain, but coming in at 32 years old, it is unlikely. The market will not be kind and the Panthers would be wise to not overpay. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Chicago Bears

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    2012 Tag Recipient: RB Matt Forte

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: DT Henry Melton. 

     

    The Chicago Bears have a few noteworthy free agents, including a man by the name of Brian Urlacher.

    How times have changed in Chicago. 

    Urlacher is not a priority and is nowhere close to sniffing the tag. That honor would go to defensive tackle Henry Melton.

    Melton is one of the league's best. He is an elite pass rusher who collapses the pocket from the interior to put unique pressure on opposing quarterbacks. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bears plan to tag Melton if a deal cannot be reached. 

    Bank on the Bears tagging Melton despite planned talks at the scouting combine. Chicago did the same thing with Matt Forte last year en route to a long-term deal. 

     

    Verdict: Bears tag Henry Melton ($8.306 million). 

Cincinnati Bengals

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    2012 Tag Recipient: K Mike Nugent.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: DE Michael Johnson, OT Andre Smith.

     

    The Cincinnati Bengals have an extremely important piece on both sides of the football set to become free agents. Luckily, it sounds as if Cincinnati will be able to retain both if it plays its cards right. 

    Defensive end Michael Johnson exploded last year for over 11 sacks, making him a priority. It sounds as if the two parties will be able to strike a deal without using the tag, as Johnson has expressed his desire to remain in Cincinnati (ProFootballTalk).

    The problem then is with right tackle Andre Smith, who was the best at his position in 2012 according to ProFootballFocus. The Cincinnati Enquirer expects Smith to average in the neighborhood of $9 million-$10 million per year, so expect the Bengals to hit him with the tag if a deal cannot be reached before the deadline. 

     

    Verdict: Bengals tag OT Andre Smith ($9.660 million).

Cleveland Browns

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    2012 Tag Recipient: K Phil Dawson.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None. 

     

    The Cleveland Browns have a variety of players set to become free agents, but none that would warrant the use of the franchise tag. 

    Receiver Josh Cribbs is the biggest name of the bunch. Defensive back Sheldon Brown and kicker Phil Dawson, who was hit with the tag a year ago, round out the other notable names. 

    None of the above players are worth their weight financially when it comes to the tag. If the new Browns management, which is looking to make wholesale changes to the franchise, wants to retain any of them, reaching deals is the more likely route. 

    Expect the Browns to stay quiet on the franchise-tag front. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Dallas Cowboys

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    2012 Tag Recipient: DE/LB Anthony Spencer.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: DE/LB Anthony Spencer.

     

    The Dallas Cowboys are in serious cap trouble, which could prevent them from retaining important players such as defensive end Anthony Spencer. 

    There are other notable names such as running back Felix Jones and receiver Kevin Ogletree, but none that are even close to being worthy of a franchise tag. 

    Even Spencer himself may not be worth it. The Cowboys are switching to a 4-3 defense, which means Spencer would have to switch from his natural position of linebacker to defensive end.

    If a reasonable deal cannot be reached, it would be hard to justify giving Spencer over $10 million with the tag given the horrible cap situation. 

    Expect Spencer and the 'Boys to part ways as Dallas has neither the funds nor the scheme to justify keeping him. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Denver Broncos

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    2012 Tag Recipient: K Matt Prater. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: T Ryan Clady.

     

    The Denver Broncos have no notable free agents set to hit the market anywhere close to the importance of offensive tackle Ryan Clady. 

    Cornerback Tracy Porter is a name that catches the eye, but according to the Denver Post, the team has no plans of bringing him back at all. Defensive tackle Justin Bannan is another notable name, but at 33 years old is nowhere close to being tagged. 

    That leaves Clady, who is still recovering from shoulder surgery. According to Josina Anderson on Twitter, John Elway and the front office plan to use the franchise tag on Clady in order to work toward a long-term deal. 

    That was painless. 

     

    Verdict: Broncos tag T Ryan Clady ($9.660 million). 

Detroit Lions

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    2012 Tag Recipient: DE Cliff Avril. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: DE Cliff Avril, S Louis Delmas, RT Gosder Cherilus.

     

    Cliff Avril may be the best player entering free agency when it officially opens in March, but that does not seem to bother the Detroit Lions.

    Avril, who recorded over nine sacks in 2012, was hit with the tag a year ago. This means it is financially next to impossible for the Lions to tag him again. Making the decision easier is Avril's pursuit of the big bucks; according to MLive.com, he is looking for "Mario Williams money."

    With Avril out of the picture, Louis Delmas enters as a candidate. According to the Detroit Free Press, as a result of his missing 13 games last season, the Lions refuse to use the tag on Delmas. 

    One name not being given enough credit as a candidate is right tackle Gosder Cherilus, who ranked as the second-best right tackle in the NFL in 2012 (ProFootballFocus). Despite this, it sounds as if the Lions may allow him to walk outright according to Dave Birkett on Twitter

    It sounds as if the Lions have a plan set in stone, and that means no franchise tag. 

     

    Verdict: No tag.

Green Bay Packers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: WR Greg Jennings.

     

    Before Charles Woodson was released by the Green Bay Packers, there was a debate as to whether the team should use the franchise tag on either him or receiver Greg Jennings. 

    In the end, neither will be receiving the tag. 

    Woodson and the Packers could re-up on a short-term deal, but that does not appear to be in the works (Ian Rapoport on Twitter).

    According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers are not interested in keeping Jennings, let alone hitting him with the franchise tag. The decision makes sense thanks to his recent injury history and the fact he is about to turn 30.

    Outside of those two, players such as linebackers Erik Walden and Brad Jones are not worth the price tag. It appears there will be no tag action in Green Bay. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Houston Texans

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: LB Connor Barwin, S Glover Quin.

     

    The Houston Texans, like many of the teams on this list, have two players that really stand out as worthy of the franchise tag. 

    This time it is linebacker Connor Barwin and safety Glover Quin. It is also pretty clear who, if either, will receive the tag. 

    Back in September, Barwin was considered a lock to receive the tag (Pro Football Weekly). That was before his miserable 2012 campaign that saw him only record three sacks. 

    Barwin's horrible year has opened the door for Quin, who was the team's biggest playmaker on defense last year. According to John McClain on Twitter, he is the "top priority" for the Texans this offseason, meaning he will get the tag if a deal cannot be reached. 

    Expect Houston and Quin to come to terms on a deal. Even if they do not, the tag for safeties is friendly in the area of $6 million. 

     

    Verdict: No tag.

Indianapolis Colts

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    2012 Tag Recipient: DE Robert Mathis.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: P Pat McAfee.

     

    The Indianapolis Colts turned over the roster a year ago as part of the rebuilding process and added 33 new players. 

    That does not give the team many unrestricted free agents this offseason. 

    Dwight Freeney is the big name, but at 33 years old and being a horrendous fit in the new 3-4 defense Indianapolis employs, he is as good as gone. 

    Receiver Donnie Avery is another name worth mentioning, but the receiver with the worst drop rate in the NFL last year (Pro Football Focus) will not come close to seeing the franchise tag.

    The most critical part of the 2012 playoff team that could get away at this point is punter Pat McAfee. According to the Indianapolis Star, the man who holds the franchise gross punting record wants to remain with the team forever. 

    According to Mike Chappelle of the Indianapolis Star, McAfee is a sure-fire bet for the tag if the team cannot come to an agreement before the deadline. 

     

    Verdict: Colts tag P Pat McAfee ($2.926 million). 

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    2012 Tag Recipient: K Josh Scobee.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None.

     

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are another team on the rebound without a variety of important pieces set to hit the open market. 

    Cornerback Derek Cox is the one many considered to be tag-worthy. Jaguars beat writer Ryan O'Halloran wants the team to use the franchise tag on Cox as a "prove-it mechanism" (Rotoworld). 

    Like many of the team's impending free agents, there is no way Cox would be worth around $10 million next year just so he can prove himself. According to the Florida Times Union, the team has stated it has no plans to use the tag. 

    It is probably the best move, as the Jaguars need to bring in as much new talent as possible, not retain players who led to the mediocre result in 2012. 

     

    Verdict: No tag.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    2012 Tag Recipient: WR Dwayne Bowe.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: OT Branden Albert, WR Dwayne Bowe.

     

    The drama between the Kansas City Chiefs and star wide receiver Dwayne Bowe continues into the 2013 offseason after the team hit him with the franchise tag this time last year. 

    According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, the team has met with Bowe already this offseason in pursuit of a long-term deal. 

    The motivation to get a deal done soon is simple—Bowe is not the only player worth the tag this offseason. Offensive tackle Branden Albert is an important piece the team is trying to bring back (Ian Rapoport on Twitter), even more so with the Chiefs potentially taking a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft. 

    This brings us back to Bowe, who according to Adam Schefter on SportsCenter, is the main priority for the Chiefs this offseason (h/t Rotoworld). Kansas City plans on using the tag once more to ensure Bowe gives the franchise maximum effort in another contract year. 

     

    Verdict: Chiefs tag WR Dwayne Bowe ($11+ million). 

Miami Dolphins

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: OT Jake Long, CB Sean Smith.

     

    Jake Long is the biggest name hitting free agency for the Miami Dolphins, but he may not be the best player prepping to hit the market from the roster.

    According to the Miami Herald, the Dolphins have made several offers to Long this offseason, but none has worked. It is becoming more apparent now that Long and Co. still believe he is worth $10 million per year, as reported by the Miami Herald in January. 

    The Dolphins do not have the cash to give to Long, who has dropped off massively in performance over the years. 

    Instead, the money should go to up-and-coming cornerback Sean Smith. There are conflicting reports as to whether he will be tagged— the Palm Beach Post is reporting he will, while Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports he will not. 

    Confusing, right? 

    Not really. Smith is 25 years old and one of the rising stars at his position. If a long-term deal cannot be reached, bet the bank the Dolphins will hit him with the $10 million tag. He is worth the risk. 

     

    Verdict: Dolphins tag CB Sean Smith ($10.668 million).

Minnesota Vikings

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: OT Phil Loadholt.


    Phil Loadholt is the man amongst boys in Minnesota when it comes to franchise-tag candidates (no really; he's 6'8" 343 pounds). 

    All jokes aside, Loadholt is an integral piece to running back Adrian Peterson's success, as he is one of the best run blockers in the NFL. His pass blocking leaves much to be desired, but when your offense runs through a back like Peterson, Loadholt is a necessity to remain competitive. 

    GM Rick Spielman has publicly stated the team will do whatever it takes to bring back Loadholt (vikings.com):

    "Continuity is a huge part of it on the offensive line because those guys have to work as one unit and they have to know each other inside and out," Spielman said. "We'd love to keep Phil Loadholt, so we'll try to do everything we can to keep Phil Loadholt, but we also have a lot of guys we'd like to keep." 

    Translation: The Vikings are going to hit Loadholt with the tag if the two sides cannot come to a deal, as confirmed by beat writer Tom Pelissero via ESPN 1500 Twin Cities.

     

    Verdict: Vikings tag Phil Loadholt ($9.660 million).

New England Patriots

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    2012 Tag Recipient: WR Wes Welker

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: CB Aqib Talib, OL Sebastian Vollmer, WR Wes Welker.

     

    The New England Patriots have three big names set to hit the market when free agency opens later this year. It is not a good situation for a team that is strapped for cash at the moment. 

    Receiver Wes Welker fell victim to the tag a year ago and still had a great season. According to the Boston Herald, the Patriots have no interest in paying him the $11 million or more it would cost to tag him again, and they also do not wish to ink him to a long-term deal. 

    The other two candidates then become a stud right tackle in Sebastian Vollmer and a nice redemption story in cornerback Aquib Talib. 

    According to Chris Price on Twitter, the Patriots' top priority this offseason is Vollmer, which makes sense considering he is one of the best right tackles the NFL has to offer. 

    The safe bet is on the Patriots giving in to Vollmer's wishes and slapping Talib with the tag if he does not accept a reasonable offer. Vollmer is a franchise player who deserves a long deal, while Talib has a history that suggests he needs to prove it before given the same treatment. 

     

    Verdict: Patriots tag CB Aqib Talib ($10.668 million).

New Orleans Saints

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    2012 Tag Recipient: QB Drew Brees.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: T Jermon Bushrod.

     

    The New Orleans Saints do not have a variety of names set to hit the market, which is great considering the team is in such horrible shape when it comes to the salary cap. 

    However, there is one player who the Saints need to bring back—left tackle Jermon Bushrod. 

    Bushrod is not the best tackle entering free agency by any means, but a large part of that is courtesy of it being such a deep class. General Manager Mickey Loomis has been quoted as saying Bushrod is the "biggest challenge for the team this offseason," according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.

    Loomis would be correct. Bushrod is an important piece of the franchise as he protects the blindside of quarterback Drew Brees. Loomis faced a similar issue last year and found a way to make it work, so expect him to make room to hit Bushrod with the tag. 

     

    Verdict: Saints tag Jermon Bushrod ($9.660 million).

New York Giants

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    2012 Tag Recipient: P Steve Weatherford.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: T Will Beatty. 

     

    The New York Giants have a number of high-profile names set to enter free agency this offseason, but there is only one who may actually receive the franchise tag. 

    Defensive end Osi Umenyiora is as good as gone as the team tries to save cap room, as is safety Kenny Phillips with two starters already in place (Charlotte Observer). 

    Tight end Martellus Bennett had a breakout season last year with the Giants, but the team does not view him as franchise-tag worthy. In fact, according to  Ian Rapoport on Twitter, the Giants do not plan to use the franchise tag on any player. 

    That is, unless the team cannot come to terms with left tackle Will Beatty before the deadline. According to Ralph Vacchiano on Twitter, Beatty is the team's No. 1 priority this offseason as it does not have another franchise left tackle behind him. 

    The Giants are intent on reaching a long-term deal with Beatty, which they probably will. If not, Beatty gets tagged. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

New York Jets

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: TE Dustin Keller. 

     

    The New York Jets have a few notable free agents hitting the market such as safety LaRon Landry and guard Brandon Moore. New York is strapped for cash and will have a hard time keeping either. 

    Landry has a clause that prevents him from being hit with the franchise tag, and he wants more money per year than the Jets can afford (ESPN New York).

    Moore, on the other hand, is believed to be on his way out because the team already has too much money tied up along the offensive line and he is approaching the age of 33 (ESPN New York). 

    One critical element the Jets will be able to afford is tight end Dustin Keller. According to Rotoworld, the Jets and Keller have yet to enter negotiations, but the franchise tag is a strong possibility since it is such a cap-friendly number. 

    Expect the Jets to tag Keller because it would not stand a chance of keeping him once he hits the market—and he knows it. 

     

    Verdict: Jets tag TE Dustin Keller ($5.962 million).

Oakland Raiders

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    2012 Tag Recipient: S Tyvon Branch. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: LB Phillip Wheeler. 

     

    Where to start with the Oakland Raiders? The team is in cap purgatory and is already over the 2013 cap limit. 

    Names such as Richard Seymour (who accounts for whopping $14 million against the cap in 2013) is heading out the door, as is a declining punter in Shane Lechler. 

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, tight end Brandon Myers could be welcomed back for the right price after having a breakout year, but he is not worth close to the tag. 

    Head coach Dennis Allen has gone on record as saying he wants to bring back defensive end Andre Carter and linebacker Phillip Wheeler (San Francisco Chronicle). At 33 years old, Carter should not be difficult to bring back for cheap. 

    The problem is Wheeler, who was the team's best player on defense in 2012. If Allen and the Raiders absolutely have to tag a player, it is going to be Wheeler. How they find the funds is another story entirely. 

    Wheeler is likely headed to free agency after his breakout year, unless he for some reason is willing to take a miserable contract to stay with Oakland. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Philadelphia Eagles

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    2012 Tag Recipient: WR DeSean Jackson. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None. 

     

    According to Jeff McLane on Twitter, the Philadelphia Eagles have no plans to use the franchise tag on cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, or any player on the roster for that matter. 

    It makes sense considering all of the players headed to free agency in Philadelphia are average at best. Rodgers-Cromartie was a joke last year in coverage, and players like defensive linemen Darryl Tapp and Derek Landri are easily replaceable. 

    It looks like Rodgers-Cromartie will not be back with the Eagles, which is fine. Philadelphia has north of $30 million to play with this offseason, so upgrading with outside talent is the way to go. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: None. 

     

    According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Mike Wallace turned down several large offers from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the team is unwilling to go any higher in negotiations. 

    Outside of Wallace, Max Starks was one of the team's best offensive linemen in 2012 but will not be brought back. The team is undergoing a scheme change in the trenches, and Starks does not meet the qualifications (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).

    One man the team is attempting to bring back is veteran linebacker Larry Foote, and according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the two sides are working on a new deal. There is no chance the team pays $10 million to keep the 33-year-old Foote, so it is a new deal or free agency for the veteran. 

     

    Verdict: No tag.  

San Diego Chargers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: G Louis Vasquez.

     

    There is just one free agent for the San Diego Chargers who could receive the franchise tag—offensive guard Louis Vasquez. 

    According to the Union-Tribune San Diego, Vasquez and the Chargers have yet to begin contract negotiations. It makes sense, as Vasquez will likely command top dollar and the Chargers have little cap space to work with. 

    According to ProFootballFocus, Vasquez is the No. 13 overall guard in the NFL and will command massive money on the open market as the second-best guard behind Andy Levitre. 

    The Chargers may be able to persuade Vasquez into a long-term deal, but the appeal of the open market and starting a bidding war can be enticing. The safe bet is the Chargers finding a way to apply the tag to Vasquez. 

     

    Verdict: Chargers tag G Louis Vasquez ($9.660 million).

San Francisco 49ers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: S Dashon Goldson. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: S Dashon Goldson. 

     

    The San Francisco 49ers have two quality free agents set to hit the market in tight end Delanie Walker and safety Dashon Goldson. 

    According to CSN Bay Area, Walker is the No. 2 priority for the 49ers this offseason and should easily agree to a nice offer from the team. 

    There is a good chance this plays out as it did last year, with Goldson being slapped with the franchise tag. This works in the 49ers' favor as he is approaching 29 years old, and the team will not be locked into a bad contract if he falters. 

     

    Verdict: 49ers tag S Dashon Goldson ($7.5 million) 

Seattle Seahawks

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: K Steven Hauschka.

     

    The Seattle Seahawks are in a great situation entering the 2013 offseason. The team has a boatload of cap room and no major talent on the way out. 

    Defensive tackle Alan Branch is one name the team could use back in 2013, but his desire to stay in Seattle (ESPN 710 Seattle) will make a deal likely happen sooner rather than later. 

    This means the Seahawks can slap the ridiculously cheap tag on kicker Steven Hauschka and still be financially in the clear. Hauschka did not miss any attempts inside of 50 yards all of last season, although anything over 50 saw him go 1-of-4. 

    According to 710 ESPN Seattle, Hauschka is the only candidate for the tag. Expect him to receive it this year on a "prove-it" deal that will reward him if he can be better from long range. 

     

    Verdict: Seahawks tag K Steven Hauschka ( $2.926 million). 

St. Louis Rams

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    2012 Tag Recipient: None. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: WR Danny Amendola. 

     

    St. Louis also has two very notable potential free agents. Running back Steven Jackson could be testing the market soon, although he and the Rams are meeting at the scouting combine to discuss their future together (Denver Post).

    The real issue for St. Louis is oft-injured receiver Danny Amendola. He is an elite talent when healthy, but that does not happen very often. 

    According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Rams and Amendola are "far apart" in contract negotiations. In all likelihood, this means the Rams are not giving in to Amendola's demands, who probably wants to be paid as if he were actually healthy all the time. 

    SI.com is reporting that the Rams are intent on letting Amendola test the market and then attempting to re-sign him. 

    Hitting him with the tag is not a horrible idea. It would cost $10 million, but if he performs well in 2013 you can lock him up. If he gets hurt again, then the Rams are not locked into a horrific contract. 

    It seems as if the Rams have made up their mind. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    2012 Tag Recipient: K Connor Barth.

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: DE Michael Bennett.  

     

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a serious problem on their hands if the team allows defensive end Michael Bennett to reach the open market this offseason. 

    Bennett exploded onto the scene in 2012 with nine sacks and was far and away one of the team's best defensive players. 

    Aging veterans such as safety Ronde Barber (who had an amazing year in his own right) and tight end Dallas Clark are hitting the market as well, but are unsure if they will continue to play. 

    The focus in Tampa Bay needs to be on Bennett. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Bennett is intent on testing the market despite negotiations with the team. 

    Tampa Bay has plenty of cash to spend this offseason, so retaining one of their own is very important. Allowing Bennett to reach free agency does not make any sense at this point. 

     

    Verdict: Buccaneers tag DE Michael Bennett ($10.984 million).

Tennessee Titans

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    2012 Tag Recipient: S Michael Griffin. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: K Rob Bironas, TE Jared Cook.

     

    The Tennessee Titans have two players the franchise is intent on keeping around for 2013, whether they like it or not. 

    One is kicker Rob Bironas, who was mediocre in 2013. According to the The Tennessean, the Titans are willing to use the franchise tag to keep him around, but a long-term deal is more likely, as the team is saving the tag for someone else. 

    That someone else would be tight end Jared Cook, who was at one point this offseason being reported as having "no future" in Tennessee (CBSSports.com).

    The Titans are adamant that Cook stays put and admits that a deal with Cook is not happening "any time soon" (Tennessean). This means Cook is going to be hit with the franchise tag if the two parties cannot come to an agreement before the deadline. 

     

    Verdict: Titans tag TE Jared Cook ($5.962 million). 

Washington Redskins

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    2012 Tag Recipient: TE Fred Davis. 

    2013 Franchise Tag Candidates: TE Fred Davis.

     

    The Washington Redskins have only one candidate for the franchise tag this offseason. That honor would go to tight end Fred Davis, who was also tagged last year. 

    Fortunately for Davis, he seems to be exempt from the tag for an unfortunate reason. According to the Washington Post, the Redskins want Davis back but are willing to take a chance on losing him in free agency as he recovers from a torn Achilles. 

    The move makes sense for Washington, as it is in one of the NFL's worst cap situations. Teams are unlikely to give Davis any kind of deal until he can prove he is healthy, which is going to take a long time given the severity of the injury. 

    Washington may get Davis back late in the offseason process as a result. 

     

    Verdict: No tag. 

     

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