Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Will Ed Reed get the franchise tag in 2013?
EDITOR'S UPDATE: The Ravens did not use the franchise tag today.
The Baltimore Ravens are hoping that their latest contract offer to Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will be finalized sometime on Monday. Once Flacco has signed on the dotted line, the Ravens can then turn their attention to their other priorities, of which there are many.
Baltimore was listed at $102.1 million by Pro Football Talk, so how much of the available salary cap space will be consumed by Flacco in 2013?
The latest news on Flacco's contract was detailed via a tweet by Adam Kaplan, which lists Flacco's salary cap figure for 2013 as being a very manageable $6.8 million. Such a low figure gives the Ravens a realistic shot at giving the franchise tag to one of their veteran free agents.
The player who would seem to be a likely target for the franchise tag is safety Ed Reed. Reed has been an invaluable member of the Ravens defense, and with the retirement of Ray Lewis, Reed would be one of the key leaders of the defensive unit for 2013.
Reed is getting up there in age (34 years old), so how much longer does he want to continue playing? According to NFL insider Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, it doesn't sound like the Ravens have made much progress since the Super Bowl with trying to retain Reed:
Future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed has not talked to the team about a new contract and is another free agent. Those sides could speak soon, and Reed is in the process of discussing signing with an agent after representing himself for the past few years.
If the Ravens don't have the financial room to tag Reed, it is very possible that he could get scooped up by a team like the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos for the tail end of Reed's great career.
Besides Reed, the other key free agents are linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger. Ellerbe will be taking over for Lewis, provided that the Ravens don't lose him in free agency.
Ravens Franchise Tag Prediction: The news on Flacco's 2013 salary cap hit makes it possible to envision the Ravens giving the franchise tag to Ed Reed.
UPDATE: Baltimore decided against using the franchise tag today, making Ed Reed, Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger unrestricted free agents.