The NFL doesn't sleep and even though we're in the middle of a long and cold offseason, there is still plenty to talk about. On Friday, several teams used their franchise tag. Other teams released some big-name players and others worked out new deals by restructuring contracts. Here's the news from Friday.
It was announced on Friday that Monday at 4 p.m. would be the deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise tags. The official tag figures were also released.
It was also revealed that the Bears are planning on using their franchise tag to keep defensive tackle Henry Melton in the Windy City for at least one more year. Melton has racked up 13 sacks over the last two seasons and has vastly improved his run defense.
The Buffalo Bills used their franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd on Friday. The Bills had reportedly been working with Byrd for months in order to lock down a long-term deal, but the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement. Using the tag will keep Byrd in Buffalo for at least one more season.
The Indianapolis Colts used their franchise tag to keep punter Pat McAfee in Indianapolis for at least another season. It's somewhat rare for teams to use the tag on a punter and it could mean that they feel he's worth getting payed as much as the top five punters in the league or that they don't feel the need to re-sign any of their free agents.
The Bengals also used their franchise tag, only not on a punter. They used it to ensure that defensive end Michael Johnson, who racked up 11.5 sacks in 2012, stays with the team through at least 2013. Both sides are still working on coming to a long-term deal, though.
The Broncos used their franchise tag on left tackle Ryan Clady on Friday. Clady has become one of the better left tackles in the league and when it comes to protecting Peyton Manning's blind side, the job can't go to someone who doesn't know what they're doing. Clady will remain in Denver for at least one more season.
Michael Turner was released for the Atlanta Falcons and, instead of being upset, he thanked the team on Facebook. He said that he will always cherish the memories and friends made while playing in Atlanta and thanked the team for giving him a chance as a free agent.
There were a couple more players released on Friday as the Panthers parted ways with nose tackle Ron Edwards and the Arizona Cardinals released linebacker Stewart Bradley, though it will still cost them $3 million because he had three more years left on his contract.
Tight end Greg Olsen saved the Panthers a little money by restructuring his contract on Friday. The Lions reportedly signed offensive tackle Corey Hilliard to a two-year deal on Friday. Also, reports surfaced that the Jets and quarterback David Garrard are nearing a contract agreement that would land the free agent in New York.
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