The franchise tag gives an NFL team the ability to keep one of its key players, but a few front office executives around the league will be scratching their heads and wishing they could use this option on more than one person on their rosters.
Sometimes, the decision is obvious for general mangers. The Baltimore Ravens likely won’t have much trouble deciding to use the tag on quarterback Joe Flacco after he won the Super Bowl MVP.
Similarly, the John Elway and the Denver Broncos are unlikely to show much hesitation in their decision to keep left tackle Ryan Clady around.
But not all teams are lucky enough to have such an easy call to make. Here are the teams in the most difficult position regarding the franchise tag.
The Dolphins are fortunate enough to have talent on the roster, but it is unlucky how many quality players in Miami are currently franchise tag candidates.
Reggie Bush’s performance in the backfield has certainly earned him consideration, but former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long is another player that will tempt the team’s management.
The options don’t end there, as defensive tackle Randy Starks’ departure would leave a huge hole in the front seven, and cornerback Sean Smith’s role is equally important to the secondary’s success. But The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero is adamant that Smith will not be tagged:
Today is the first day NFL teams can use the Franchise tag on their UFAs. The Dolphins will NOT use their tag on Sean Smith. Period.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) February 18, 2013
With so many options, the Dolphins will have to put plenty of thought into this decision.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs may not have as many players worthy of the franchise tag as the Dolphins, but two names jump out when looking at potential candidates.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and left tackle Branden Albert both play instrumental roles in Kansas City’s offense. As NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal notes, the team is looking to keep both players on the roster.
New head coach Andy Reid would surely like to have both players around in 2013. But if negotiations don’t go as planned, tagging one of the players may be necessary.
General manager John Dorsey should be working hard to sign one of these players to a new contract in order to make this decision easier.
New England Patriots
Who should the Pats use the franchise tag on?
Once again, Wes Welker’s name will be mentioned as the Patriots and the star receiver continue their contentious dealings. But the Boston Herald’s Ron Borges reported, “The Patriots are simply not going to put an $11.4 million franchise tag on Welker, someone with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking said.”
New England has other players who will factor into their decision to use the franchise tag as well. Defensive backs Partick Chung and Aqib Talib are both candidates, while offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer is another option.
These other players make it even less likely that Welker will be back in New England next season.
However, letting a player who has 240 receptions in the last two seasons walk will be difficult, and the Patriots still have tough decisions to make.