Had the Eagles used the franchise tag on Rodgers-Cromartie, the cornerback would have made over $10 million in 2013 -- and that's simply a number, and a cap hit, the Eagles didn't want to pay.
Though $10 million is a solid year's salary, Rodgers-Cromartie figures to command more on the open market -- and he'll receive long-term security, which is the only thing the franchise tag fails to provide.
As one of the top free-agent cornerbacks on the market, Rodgers-Cromartie will have no shortage of suitors this spring. He was rated as the No. 1 cornerback on the free-agent market by SB Nation earlier this month.
With the NFL being as pass-happy as it is, having an excellent pass defense is pivotal to success.
Rodgers-Cromartie will almost certainly draw interest from the New England Patriots -- provided the Patriots can't come to an agreement with Aqib Talib. New England's secondary was much improved with Talib on the field, and the Patriots can ill-afford to not improve their secondary this offseason.
As with anything in New England, a lot depends on the cost. The Patriots also have to attempt to keep free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker as well as offensive lineman Sebeastian Vollmer. New England's impending free agents could end up costing the team too much money -- and they could be left utilizing the draft to address secondary concerns.
One of New England's AFC East rivals could be interested in Rodgers-Cromartie as well. The Miami Dolphins have over $30 million of cap space, and had the No. 27 ranked pass defense in the league last year. With money to spend, the Dolphins would be wise to shore up their secondary -- especially while Tom Brady is the opposing quarterback for two games per season.
With plenty of cap space and a need at cornerback, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could show significant interest in adding Rodgers-Cromartie. Tampa Bay boasted the best rush-defense in the entire NFL, but also had the worst pass-defense in the league, surrendering 297.4 yards per game passing through the air.
Tampa Bay has over $30 million in cap space headed into free agency, and the Buccaneers figure to be major players. Cornerback is clearly a need. Tampa Bay isn't too far off from being a playoff team once again, and Rodgers-Cromartie could be a significant piece for the Buccaneers.
Cleveland's new regime could look to make a splash as well. The Browns have plenty of cap room, and need to upgrade a pass defense that ranked No. 25 in the NFL last season. With the Steelers struggling with cap space, and the Ravens dealing with the loss of Ray Lewis while needing to spend a lot on Joe Flacco, the time could be now for the Browns to attempt to compete.
Rodgers-Cromartie won't be able to sign with a team until March 12, and plenty can change around the league between now and then. What won't change is the demand for cornerbacks like Rodgers-Cromartie, who will have no shortage of suitors come March 12.