The deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise tag passed on Monday with eight teams utilizing their franchise tags. A number of the tagged players were expected, but there were a couple of surprises including one right at the deadline.
Here is a closer look at who received the franchise tag, who didn't and the surprises of the day.
Tagged as expected:
Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos
There was no surprise here as the Broncos made it very clear early in the offseason they would use the tag on Clady if the two sides were unable to agree to a long-term extension. Clady would have been one of the most sought-after free agents on the market, but instead received a one-year tender worth $9.828 million.
Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo didn't wait until the deadline to tag Byrd. Instead the Bills opted to announce the move a few days before Monday's deadline. Byrd is one of the top safeties in the NFL and just 26 years old, making him an easy choice as a franchise player. By tagging Byrd, Buffalo guard Andy Levitre will hit the open market.
Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati designated Johnson as its franchise player three days before the deadline. It wasn't much of a surprise, as Johnson was coming off the best season of his career, but the Bengals had to make a decision between Johnson and right tackle Andre Smith. They chose Johnson, which means Smith is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
Henry Melton, Chicago Bears
As expected the Bears designated Melton their franchise player, despite the investment they've already made on defense. Melton developed into one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL and would have had plenty of suitors on the open market. By doing so, Chicago tendered Melton a one-year deal worth $8.45 million. If he signs the franchise tender, Melton would join Julius Peppers, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs as Chicago defenders making at least $7 million next season.
Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts
It's not every year a punter receives the franchise tag, but McAfee proved to be a valuable asset for the Colts. Without other major free agents, it made sense for the Colts to tag McAfee and the move won't break the bank as the tender for punters is $2.977 million.
Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins could have gone a few different ways with their franchise tag, but decided to designate Starks as expected. Starks is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the keys to Miami's defense. By using the tag on Starks, left tackle Jake Long and cornerback Sean Smith will become unrestricted free agents.
Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs
It wasn't necessarily a surprise Albert received the designation, but instead the surprise was the fashion in which it happened. The Chiefs were able to agree to a long-term extension with Dwyane Bowe just prior to the deadline, allowing them to use the franchise tag on Albert.
Anthony Spencer, Dallas Cowboys
Many didn't think the Cowboys would be able to afford Spencer, but Dallas tagged Spencer for the second straight year. The move was costly as Spencer will receive a one-year tender worth $10.638 million, but Dallas apparently did not want to risk losing him to the open market.
Sebastian Vollmer, Patriots
Not only did the Patriots decide against designating Vollmer as the franchise player, but New England passed on using the tag on Wes Welker or Aqib Talib as well. All three are now slated to hit the open market.
Dashon Goldson, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers tagged Goldson last season, but will let him become an unrestricted free agent this season. Goldson should have plenty of suitors, especially with Byrd off the market. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, but tagging Goldson would have been costly.
William Moore, Atlanta Falcons
The 27-year-old Moore appeared like a prime candidate for the franchise tag, but Atlanta chose not to designate anyone. That doesn't mean the Falcons won't try to re-sign Moore, Brent Grimes or Sam Baker, but will likely have competition to do so.
Glover Quin, Houston Texans
Quin was one of the keys to the Texans defense and there was speculation recently that Houston may tag Quin, but instead chose not to use their franchise tag.
Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans
Many thought the Titans and Cook would battle over whether he should be tagged as a tight end or a wide receiver, but as it turns out he was tagged as neither as Tennessee decided not to use its franchise tag.
Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks
Coming off an excellent season, Hauschka was a candidate for the franchise tag, but Seattle will instead let him hit the market. The free agent kicker pool is deep, giving the Seahawks a number of options if Hauschka signs elsewhere.
Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers
Jennings wasn't shy in voicing his displeasure for the franchise tag and he got his wish on Monday. The 29-year-old will now hit the open market, where he can search for the big free agent deal he has been seeking.
Paul Kruger, Baltimore Ravens
After Joe Flacco agreed to a long-term deal with the Ravens, Baltimore had the option of tagging Kruger or linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Instead, the Ravens chose to not use their franchise tag leaving Kruger and Ellerbe as unrestricted free agents. Both players should have multiple suitors on the open market.
Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams
Despite some bizarre rumors the Rams were considering tagging Amendola as a tight end, the Rams decided against using the franchise or transition tags on the wide receiver. Amendola proved to be one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets and St. Louis will likely attempt to re-sign him despite letting him test the market.
Dustin Keller, New York Jets
With salary cap and other roster issues, paying a premium for a tight end proved to not be an option for the Jets as Keller will now hit the market. He could return to New York, although the two sides haven't discussed a long-term contract this offseason.
Phil Loadholt, Minnesota Vikings
Loadholt played a key role in paving the way for Adrian Peterson last season, but the Vikings decided against using the franchise tag. The move wasn't a surprise, but the two sides may still try to work out a long-term extension.
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