For the first time in three years, the transition tag was brushed off and put to use prior to its deadline, and it happened twice. The Cleveland Browns used the designation to keep center Alex Mack around for a little bit longer, while the Pittsburgh Steelers used it to keep outside linebacker Jason Worilds.
Similar to the franchise tag, the transition tag will give both Mack and Worilds one-year deals that make them among the highest-paid players in the NFL at their position. Unlike the franchise tag though, it doesn't mean that the two players are necessarily stuck with their current teams, as both can negotiate on the open market.
However, to Chris Pokorny of SB Nation's Browns blog, Dawgs By Nature, the opening of that door likely means the team won't allow Mack to leave:
Because the Browns used the transition tag, if they do not match the offer, they will receive no compensation in draft picks. If it were the franchise tag, the Browns would have received two first-round picks. For the risk Cleveland is taking, it tells me that they are willing to match any offer sheet that Mack signs.
The same might not be true for the Steelers, who don't have nearly as much room under the salary cap as the Browns. Where Cleveland can match any offer, Pittsburgh would have a lot of trouble doing so. That means it's likely that the team pushes to reach a long-term deal with Worilds before free agency opens later in March, according to Neal Coolong of SB Nation's Steelers blog, Behind The Steel Curtain.
Here is some other news from around the NFL that you may have missed:
Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy officially received the franchise tag on Monday and waited no more than 24 hours to sign his $13.1 million franchise tender on Tuesday morning. With Hardy now under contract, the attention turns to reaching a long-term deal with the Pro Bowler. That's something the Panthers can afford to do, but should still think twice about, according to James Dator of SB Nation's Panthers blog, Cat Scratch Reader:
It's never been a matter of whether the Panthers could afford Hardy, but whether their cap ratios should dictate them sinking so much money into one position. There's a very real situation where the team is sinking over 30-percent of their yearly cap into three players: Charles Johnson, Cam Newton and Hardy -- that's a tough pill to swallow.
Only four teams elected to use the franchise tag prior to its Monday afternoon deadline, while two used the transition tag. Jimmy Graham, Brian Orakpo, Greg Hardy and Nick Folk were the four recipients of the tag that will give each a one-year deal worth an average of the top five highest-paid players at their respective positions.
The list of notable players that were not given the franchise tag on Monday includes: Jairus Byrd, Lamarr Houston, Eugene Monroe, Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner and T.J. Ward. All players that didn't receive the tag are scheduled to become free agents on March 11 if no deal is reached before then.
Anquan Boldin, Brent Grimes and Bernard Pollard are all staying put in 2014, as the three re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans, respectively. The new contract for Boldin should be nothing but good news to 49ers fans, according to David Fucillo of SB Nation's 49ers blog, Niners Nation:
A two year deal makes a lot of sense to me. Even if they paid a little extra to bring it down to two years, I like the notion of a couple years. First, it gives the 49ers some time to build up the young receivers around Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Quinton Patton gets at least one more year of learning what it takes to be an NFL receiver, and if the 49ers add a rookie or two, they have great mentors in Boldin and Crabtree.
Both Boldin and Pollard received two-year deals, while Grimes received a four-year contract worth $36 million. That's a huge bounce back for Grimes after he missed all but one game in 2012 due to an Achilles injury that ended his career with the Atlanta Falcons.
It's hard to imagine the NFL without Peyton Manning, but with his 38th birthday just a few weeks away, the end is near for the 13-time Pro Bowler. With a contract that stipulates he must have his neck cleared by a doctor for another season, Manning has already said that he would have no problem hanging up his cleats if he was suggested to do so. That did not happen this year, as Manning passed a physical on Monday and is fully prepared to come back in 2014.
Manning had a record-breaking campaign in 2013, breaking the single-season records for passing yards (5,477) and passing touchdowns (55) en route to the NFL MVP Award.