Between Feb. 17 and March 3 are the dates that the Green Bay Packers have to use the franchise tag on one of their players. That gives the Packers two weeks to decide whether or not one of their current free agents is worth using the franchise tag on.
This isn't a move that the Packers use regularly. In fact, the last time the Packers franchise tagged someone was back in 2010, when they used it on defensive tackle Ryan Pickett.
The Packers have a handful of players who could potentially be in line to get the franchise tag this year. Here's a breakdown of the decision the Packers have to make before March 3.
The Cost to Franchise Tag
What's ultimately the most important thing for any team, including the Packers, desiring to use the franchise tag on a player is whether or not it makes sense from a cost standpoint. As you can see in the numbers below from the Jacksonville Jaguars' website, it can become rather expensive to franchise tag certain positions:
|Franchise Tag Costs|
|Position||Cost to Franchise Tag|
|Running Backs||$9.074 million|
|Wide Receivers||$11.539 million|
|Tight Ends||$6.709 million|
|Offensive Line||$11.126 million|
|Defensive Ends||$12.475 million|
|Defensive Tackles||$9.182 million|
|Via Jacksonville Jaguars|
The most surprising figure above is how low the cost is to franchise a tight end this year. At only $6.709 million, tight ends get a significantly less amount of money if they get franchise tagged than nearly every other position.
Cost is certainly going to play a huge decision in whether or not the Packer decide to use the franchise tag on one of their many free agents this offseason.
Potential Franchise Tag Targets
There are only a handful of names that the Packers could potentially use the franchise tag on this year. The two biggest players are cornerback Sam Shields and defensive end B.J. Raji. However, Green Bay could also decide to use the franchise tag on one of its free-agent tight ends in Andrew Quarless or Jermichael Finley.
Quarless and Finley make the most sense financially since it'd only cost $6.7 million to tag them, but if the Packers were to re-sign them to a multi-year deal it, would definitely be for a yearly salary less than that amount. That's the big reason why neither Finley nor Quarless are likely to be franchise tagged.
As for Shields and Raji, both are legitimate possibilities for the Packers. While the cost to franchise tag them seems significantly high, both Raji and Shields could demand salaries close to that amount on the open market in free agency.
What decision the Packers ultimately need to make is whether or not a long-term deal is the way to go with each potential franchise tag target.
Likelihood the Packers Use Their Franchise Tag?
Not very likely.
Now, there is an interesting situation that Tom Silverstein from the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel breaks down in this article. In it he says:
One scenario that can't be overlooked is this: the Packers reach a long-term agreement with Shields, which keeps his cap number at a reasonable level (maybe $5 million), and they put the transition tag on Raji. The transition tag would cost around $8 million for one year, but it's a good way of reading the market.
The only problem with this situation is that Raji already rejected an offer for $8 million per year earlier in the season. It's certainly possible that Raji has realized that there's no way he's making $8 million a year after struggling so much and jumps at the chance to sign the franchise tag. However, it's also hard to imagine the Packers paying that much for a player who did so little last year.
As for Shields, he's a player that the Packers absolutely need on the roster for the future. That's why it'd be more likely for Green Bay to sign him to a long-term deal than use the franchise tag on him.
Look for the Packers to re-sign who they want to re-sign and pass on using the franchise tag on any of their players this offseason.