The deadline to apply the franchise tag to players is set for Monday, but a few teams aren't wasting any time locking up players with the designation. On Friday, Jimmy Graham, Greg Hardy and Nick Folk were all reportedly informed by their respective teams that the franchise tag will be applied to them.
With three days remaining before the deadline, here is the franchise tag-related news you may have missed from around the NFL:
The New Orleans Saints made the unsurprising move of slapping the franchise tag on their two-time Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, but the interesting part is what comes next. While Graham is due about $6.8 million as a franchised tight end, according to the estimations of OverTheCap, he will likely look to file a grievance that would designate him as a wide receiver.
Jermichael Finley and Jared Cook have considered filing similar grievances in the past, but neither reached the point where it became a necessity to do so. Graham has an even better argument than those two, as he is often split out wide in the high-flying offense of the Saints. If listed as a wide receiver, Graham would be due about $11.6 million in 2014.
The Kraken of Hogwarts has reportedly been told that he will be the recipient of the franchise tag from the Carolina Panthers, where he has spent his entire four-year career. In his last two seasons, Greg Hardy has racked up 26 sacks and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2014 after finishing with the third-most sacks in the NFL.
While the application of the franchise tag will keep Hardy in Carolina, it's also a scary situation for the team, according to James Dator of SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader:
Salary cap concerns are real. The issue was never whether the Panthers could retain Hardy with a franchise tag, but if they should. If Carolina is unable to trade Hardy or sign him to a long term deal his one-year contract will consume over half of the team's available money. Last year a defensive end franchise tag cost $11.2 million, which will likely rise in 2014.
The franchise tag is likely to be $12.6 million for defensive ends in 2014, according to the estimations at OverTheCap
The New York Jets locked up kicker Nick Folk, who was scheduled to become a free agent in March, by applying the franchise tag to him on Friday, the team announced. With a low number for kickers, it's not uncommon for the position to receive the franchise designation. However, John Butchko of SB Nation's Jets blog, Gang Green Nation, isn't a fan of the move:
I can't really say I'm in love with this move.
Don't get me wrong. Folk was great in 2013. It's just this makes his cap number over $3 million according to reports. That is a tremendous amount of space to use on a kicker. And a career year at Folk's age usually does not repeat itself. It feels like the Jets are paying based on past performance instead of what will happen going forward.
Folk, 29, has spent the last four seasons with the Jets after originally entering the league as a sixth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2007 NFL Draft. He made 33-of-36 field goals during the 2013 season, finishing fifth in the NFL in total field goals.
The Baltimore Ravens came to an agreement on a five-year deal with tight end Dennis Pitta on Friday, and that could mean the franchise tag is on the way for offensive tackle Eugene Monroe. It is now likely that the team applies the tag to Monroe, according to Chris Wesseling of NFL.com:
Locking up Pitta means general manager Ozzie Newsome can wield the franchise tag in talks with left tackle Eugene Monroe ahead of Monday's deadline. The sides are still talking, per Breer, but no agreement is imminent.
The Ravens acquired Monroe from the Jacksonville Jaguars via mid-season trade in exchange for fourth- and fifth-round selections in the 2014 NFL Draft. Monroe will be due about $11.2 million in 2014 if he doesn't receive a long-term deal, per OverTheCap.