With NFL free agency just around the corner, the beginning of March is marked by a mad scramble from teams to reach deals with impending free agents to ensure that they stay. For teams that are unable to reach such an agreement with a player, the alternative route is to use the franchise tag, forcing a player to stay for another season.
Teams have until Monday at 4 p.m ET to apply the franchise tag to a player, thereby securing that the player stays for another year. By using the tag, a player is given a one-year contract worth the average of the five highest-paid players their given position:
|Franchise Tag Figures via ESPN|
Given the high salaries that come with the franchise tag, teams are typically hesitant to hand out to just any player primed to hit free agency. To give out a one-year contract that makes a player among the top five at their position, a team usually wants that player to be, at the very least, near the top five. However, a record 21 players received the designation during the 2012 offseason.
Four teams have already dolled out the franchise tag in 2013, as the Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears and Cincinnati Bengals assigned tags to Pat McAfee, Jairus Byrd, Henry Melton and Michael Johnson, respectively, making sure that all four will stay with their teams for at least one more season.
While the NFL is unlikely to see 21 teams use the tag like the 2012 offseason, there are still plenty of teams that may choose to use the system. Particularly interesting will be the case of the Kansas City Chiefs, as wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, offensive tackle Branden Albert and punter Dustin Colquitt all have expiring contracts. Owners of the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the team could select Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel if Albert is allowed to walk.
Other possible recipients include New England Patriots offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer, Houston Texans safety Glover Quin, Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady and St. Louis Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola.
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