2013 NFL Free Agents: Tracking the Biggest Names on Franchise Tag Monday
When we think about the NFL offseason, Franchise Tag Monday probably doesn't get them terribly excited. The NFL Scouting Combine, draft and free-agency period all get plenty of attention, but none of us really spend too much time discussing the tag.
Still, this day has huge implications for the rest of the offseason. Obviously, it affects free agency—and it looks like we'll have a very compelling crop of free agents this year—but depending on what the Kansas City Chiefs do today, it could also seriously affect this year's NFL draft.
That's right, folks, Franchise Tag Monday holds a lot of relevance for the rest of the offseason. Luckily for you, we have a full breakdown here and will be adding updates as news becomes available.
Dwayne Bowe and Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
UPDATE: Monday, March 4, at 4:20 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
The Kansas City Chiefs may have waited until the last minute to do it, but they made two major moves on Monday afternoon.
The first comes via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
The Chiefs have tagged OT Branden Albert, I'm told— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 4, 2013
The second was reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN:
Chiefs didn't use tag on WR Dwayne Bowe because they didn't have to. Chiefs and Bowe have reached agreement on a five-year deal.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2013
---End of update---
The speculation leading up to Monday is that the Kansas City Chiefs would either tag wide receiver Dwayne Bowe or offensive tackle Branden Albert.
This is easily the most compelling pair of players believed to potentially be given the tag today, and it could end up having major implications for the NFL draft if Albert isn't tagged or re-signed by the Chiefs this offseason.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
This almost assuredly ends Jennings' time in Green Bay, as its unlikely the team will sign him to a long-term extension.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans
UPDATE: Monday, March 4, at 3:40 p.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
The Tennessee Titans will not use the tag this season, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean:
The #Titans are not going to place the franchise tag on TE Jared Cook. No one will be tagged— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 4, 2013
The TE/WR debate was something the #Titans didn't want to fight through arbitrator— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 4, 2013
---End of update---
The St. Louis Rams may try to pull a fast one on the NFL and label Danny Amendola as a tight end, but if Jared Cook gets the franchise tag, he's expected to make the argument that he's a wide receiver.
Are you keeping all of this straight? Perhaps, Terry McCormick of TitansInsider can help you sort it out:
Barring a last-ditch deal, then sometime on Monday, the Tennessee Titans are expected to place the franchise tag on tight end Jared Cook.
For the Titans, the emphasis of that sentence is not "franchise tag" or even "Jared Cook." It is on "tight end," which is what the team drafted Cook to be and will regard him as, as it pertains to applying the franchise tag.
That cost will be $6.07 million to the Titans, but Cook, as has been reported numerous places, could be angling to be tagged as a wide receiver, given that he played more than half his snaps lined up in the slot position. The receiver franchise tag is a much more lucrative $10.54 million.
It's certainly an interesting debate. I think most fans and even players would describe Cook as a tight end, but with the changing nature of the position, Cook certainly won't be the last player to make this argument.
Imagine if this was Aaron Hernandez, for instance. Is it really accurate to label Hernandez a tight end? We've seen him in the slot, split out wide, playing running back and taking snaps out of the Wildcat.
Cook likely won't win this battle if he gets the tag, but he'll certainly be bringing forth an interesting debate as the tight end position continues to evolve in the modern game.
Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys
In a rather surprising development, the Dallas Cowboys will franchise outside linebacker Anthony Spencer for the second year in a row, according to NFL agent Jordan Woy:
Dallas Cowboys will franchise tag Anthony Spencer for 2nd year in a row. We will work on long term deal.— Jordan Woy (@JordanWoy) March 4, 2013
As Albert Breer of NFL.com notes, that cap hit will be significant for the Cowboys:
Anthony Spencer's franchise number for 2013 computes out to $10.608 million. Alleviating the cap ramifications should motivate a deal.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 4, 2013
Spencer played well last season, so its not surprising the team wants to keep him. It's just a bit surprising to see the Cowboys utilize the franchise tag to keep him around.
Expect to see him sign a contract extension, as I can't imagine the Cowboys will want that cap hit to stay on the books.
Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
UPDATE: Monday, March 4, at 11:45 a.m. ET by Timothy Rapp
The Dolphins have franchised DL Randy Starks, as expected.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 4, 2013
---End of update---
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS, the Miami Dolphins are expected to use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Randy Starks. La Confora notes that the team won't use the tag on tackle Jake Long or corner Sean Smith since the cap hit for tagging either player with the tag would be too high.
Albert Breer of NFL.com believes Starks is the most likely to be tagged as well:
Dolphins' tag situation worth watching. Both Brian Hartline and Sean Smith under the impression they won't be tagged. Starks is possible.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 4, 2013
Gregg Rosenthal also believes Starks is in line for a tag. At this point, I'd be surprised if Starks didn't get the tag.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Danny Amendola almost certainly won't be tagged by the St. Louis Rams, but as NFL writer Adam Caplan notes, the team could get very creative in trying to retain him:
Rams won't be using the franchise tag on WR Danny Amendola, but are considering other options in order to keep him.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 4, 2013
Funny/rediculous rumor is that they are considering using the transition tag ($5.194 M) for him as a TE.— Adam Caplan (@caplannfl) March 4, 2013
There is no way that would ever go through, obviously, but it sure would be entertaining to see the Rams try. Amendola is going to hit the market, but I would be very surprised if the Rams allowed Sam Bradford's most reliable target to sign elsewhere.
Glover Quin, Houston Texans
There are mixed signals regarding Houston Texans safety Glover Quin. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio believes Quin is the only player the team would use the franchise tag on, while John McClain of the Houston Chronicle does not believe the team will use the tag at all this year.
That means that linebacker Connor Barwin could also hit free agency.
It is widely believed that the team wants to retain the safety, however, so don't be shocked if he is signed to a contract extension sometime soon.
Sebastian Vollmer and Aqib Talib, New England Patriots
UPDATE: Monday, Mar. 4, at 5:25 p.m. ET by Tim Keeney
It's official. The Patriots, for the first time in five years, elected not to use their franchise tag (via Andy Hart of Patriots.com):
That’s the case for Wes Welker this spring, as the deadline for NFL teams to assign their franchise or transition tags to would-be free agents came and went at 4 p.m. March 4 with nothing happening in New England.
---End of update---
According to Tom E. Curran of CSN New England, the New England Patriots have whittled down the possibility of using the franchise tag to two players:
The Patriots continue to weigh their options on the franchise tag as Monday's 4 p.m. deadline approaches.
No final decision has been made and the team will deliberate further on Monday, according to a league source.
The most likely candidates for the tag appear to be either right tackle Sebastian Vollmer or cornerback Aqib Talib.
It looks like there could be a pretty healthy market in free agency for both the tackle and cornerback positions, so I wouldn't be shocked if the team didn't use the franchise tag at all this season.
Still, solid offensive tackles don't grow on trees, and the Patriots are really weak at corner, so either player would make sense to slap the tag on.
Big Names That Won't Receive the Franchise Tag
There are a lot of potential free agents with a lot of talent out there, and you might be surprised by some of the names that won't get the tag on Monday.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Ravens won't use the franchise tag at all this year, meaning linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger and safety Ed Reed could hit free agency this year.
Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN noted several big names that won't get the tag.
Players not expected to be tagged today include: WR Wes Welker, OT Jake Long, P Shane Lechler, S Dashon Goldson, TE Dustin Keller.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 4, 2013
There aren't too many surprises there, except perhaps for Goldson, who will be hard to replace for the San Francisco 49ers if he departs in free agency.
Players Already Receiving the Tag
The following players have already received the tag, according to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
1. The Buffalo Bills used the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd.
2. The Cincinnati Bengals used the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson.
3. The Indianapolis Colts used the franchise tag on punter Pat McAfee.
4. The Chicago Bears used the franchise tag on defensive tackle Henry Melton.
5. The Denver Broncos used the franchise tag on tackle Ryan Clady.