View Full Version : 10 Pack- NFL teams facing tough decisions with franchise tag.

02-10-2009, 08:11 AM

Here's a look at 10 teams who have tough decisions to make.

1. Arizona Cardinals.

With quarterback Kurt Warner suggesting that he'll play for the Cardinals or no one next season, the front-office likely isn't thinking too hard about using the franchise tag to ensure that he won't be able to leave for a team like, for example, the Chiefs, where former Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley is the new head coach.

But what if it's a ruse? What if Warner is trying to lull the team into thinking that he won't play elsewhere next season so they won't restrict his ability to sign with the team of his choice?

It would be out of character for Warner to say one thing and do another, but there's likely a way he can massage his past words to mesh with an ultimate decision to continue playing football in another city -- especially with Haley gone and several key free agents possibly to follow.

The safest course for the Cards might be to use the tag on Warner, even though it would cost $14.65 million for one season.

Brown: Trade Chiefs' Johnson, Gonzalez now
Iyer: Several Cardinals due big deals
RealScouts: NFL's top 10 free agents
News: Holt, Pace on way out of St. Louis?
RealScouts' Free Agents: QBs | WRs
SN's WarRoom: Super 99 free agents
TSB: Portis wants Boldin in Washington

Of course, if they use the tag on Warner, they'll most likely see linebacker Karlos Dansby (last year's franchise player) walk away with no compensation.

2. Cincinnati Bengals.

Last year's franchise player, tackle Stacy Andrews, tore an ACL late in the season, which virtually guarantees the team won't use the franchise tag on him a second-straight time.

The most obvious candidate for the tag is receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But the $9.88 million guaranteed salary that goes along with it could be too much for the typically frugal team to pay.

Another possible candidate is running back Cedric Benson, who parlayed a second chance in the NFL into a stellar finish to the season. The cost for the franchise tag would be only $6.621 million, and it's far more important for the team to have a solid tailback than a second high-priced wideout.

3. Oakland Raiders.

Two of Oakland's few solid players are eligible to hit the market in February, at two very different positions -- cornerback and punter.

Nnamdi Asomugha was last year's franchise player, tendered at the "exclusive" level. At $9.975 million in 2008, Asomugha would receive at least $11.97 million for 2009 under the franchise tag.

Punter Shane Lechler, on the other hand, could be kept around with a tender of only $2.483 million.

Once again, the goal should be to sign one and franchise the other. But these are the Raiders we're talking about, a team that rarely does what anyone outside the organization ever thinks they should.

4. Carolina Panthers.

Defensive end Julius Peppers has made it clear he wants out of Carolina. For only (eye roll) $17 million and change, the Panthers can hold him in place for 2009, or trade him to a team for which he wants to play.

But using the tag on Peppers means that tackle Jordan Gross would be able to walk away, with no compensation (other than, at most, a 2010 compensatory draft pick based on net free-agent losses).

So unless the Panthers can work out a long-term deal with Gross, which would allow them to tag Peppers, Carolina almost certainly will lose one of them.

5. San Diego Chargers.

The recent consternation regarding the question of whether running back LaDainian Tomlinson has a future in San Diego arises from the question of whether Darren Sproles can become the team's every-down answer to the 2006 NFL MVP.

Unless the Chargers use the franchise tag on Sproles, he'll likely join a growing list of skill-position players to walk out the door on San Diego.

So to keep Sproles from joining 2008 AP offensive player of the year Drew Brees and 2008 MVP finalist Michael Turner as former Chargers who made very good elsewhere, the Chargers might have to use the franchise tag to keep him around.

With or without Tomlinson on the team.

6. Baltimore Ravens.

Three Baltimore linebackers are scheduled to hit the free-agent market -- Terrell Suggs, Bart Scott and Ray Lewis.

The Ravens likely won't use the tag on Lewis, given that having an unhappy Lewis on the roster would likely be far worse than not having him at all.

But using it again on Suggs would result in a one-year guaranteed salary of $10.17 million, a 20 percent raise over the $8.475 million he earned in 2008 and nearly $2 million greater than the franchise number for linebackers.

So Scott might be the guy who gets the tag. Unless deals can be worked out with Suggs and Lewis, Scott might be the only one left come the start of the 2009 regular season.

The other problem is that, by using the tag on one of the linebackers, safety Jim Leonhard could walk away.

So don't be shocked if, in the end, the Ravens work out a deal with Scott, and use the $6.342 million franchise tag for the safety position on Leonhard.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Receiver Antonio Bryant, after a year out of football, had a remarkable comeback in 2008.

His performance was so impressive that the Bucs might have to use the franchise tag to keep him from leaving.

But while former coach Jon Gruden seemed to be intent on keeping Bryant, new coach Raheem Morris (and, more importantly, new offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski) might feel differently.

At a minimum, look for the cap-rich Bucs to use the tag on Bryant, if for no reason other than to trade him.

8. St. Louis Rams.

As the Rams try to rebuild the franchise, they'll be looking at getting rid of some of the big names who made big contributions to faded glory.

Indeed, that cap space could be needed to freeze safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in place for at least another season.

The little-known Atogwe has provided rare consistency on a roster racked by injury over the past two years. He started every game in each of the past three seasons, and losing him could be a huge blow for a team desperately trying to become relevant again.

9. Miami Dolphins.

Like the Ravens, the Dolphins have three players whom they surely don't want to lose. But with only one franchise tag to use, one or two of them might end up exposed to free agency.

Safety Yeremiah Bell, offensive lineman Vernon Carey and linebacker Channing Crowder are the three players most likely to draw the tag.

Look for Crowder to be the odd man out, leaving the Fins to choose between Bell and Carey.

Like the Panthers, the goal will be to get one of them signed, so that the tag can be used on the other.

10. Houston Texans.

Cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a serious knee injury during the 2007 season, casting his entire career into doubt.

But he returned in 2008, and he resumed playing football at a high level.

Now, he's poised to hit the market. The Texans want to keep him, and they might be forced to tender a guaranteed salary of $9.957 million for a guy whose long-term health still isn't a certainty.

The Texans also might want to consider using the franchise tag on tight end Owen Daniels. Though he's a restricted free agent, a team selecting in the bottom of the draft order might be tempted to take a run at the underrated Pro Bowler if the Texans merely use the highest possible restricted free agency tender, which guarantees a first- and third-round pick as compensation. Using the franchise tag -- which would entail a relatively modest $4.462 million one-year salary -- could keep other teams from trying to steal him away.

02-10-2009, 08:38 AM
Nice to see the Steelers NOT on that list for a change!

02-10-2009, 10:41 AM
i'm suprised that we were not on the list with all the FA that we have on our o-line

02-10-2009, 12:24 PM
4. Carolina Panthers.

Defensive end Julius Peppers has made it clear he wants out of Carolina. For only (eye roll) $17 million and change, the Panthers can hold him in place for 2009, or trade him to a team for which he wants to play.

This has been mentioned before, and I still don't understand. Why would he cost $17 million? That's not even CLOSE to the average of the top five salaries for defensive ends. Does it have to do with a ridiculously backloaded contract or something? Someone needs to explain this.

Also, the only team on the list that it would make any sense to use the franchise tag would be the Raiders with Asomugha. He's too good, and they have absolutely no chance at keeping him otherwise. Maybe it makes sense for Baltimore to keep one of their guys. But none of the other players on the list are that essential. Except Warner, but franchising him would be pretty needless.