Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 NFL Franchise Tag: Might The Packers Use It?

The franchise tag period is getting a little overrated these days. The big problem is that there hasn't been much of an increase in the salary cap over the past couple years. It might be between $126 to $128 million in 2014, up from $123 million in 2013, but the franchise tag is such a big number (often over $10 million) that a lot of teams just aren't able to make it work. Plus, the players hate it because it's less likely they'll receive a long-term deal (and giant signing bonus) after they've been tagged. Only eight players received the franchise tag in 2013.

A former agent writing at CBSSports.com noted that GM Ted Thompson has only used the franchise tag on two occasions (Ryan Pickett and Corey Williams) while mentioning only two possible candidates in 2014: CB Sam Shields and B.J. Raji.

Tom Silverstein thinks the franchise tag amount of $11+ million might be too rich for Shields, and I'd agree with him. Shields' cumulative cornerback grade at Pro Football Focus is just below (and similar) to CB Sean Smith, who signed a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Chiefs last March. The Bears recently re-signed CB Tim Jennings for four-years and $22.4 million, another player similar to Shields. The franchise tag of $11+ million would be a substantial overpay, though Shields could end up receiving more than either Smith or Jennings because he's younger and has more speed.

I have no idea why Raji's mentioned as a franchise tag candidate, he's listed as one of the top candidates according to NFL.com, but he hasn't recorded a sack in forever and his run defense went into the tank late last season. Why would they pay him $9.2 million in 2014? It would be stupid to tag Raji, and Ted Thompson doesn't do stupid.

So it doesn't look like the Packers will be using the franchise tag in 2014. I still want the Packers to re-sign Shields, but I don't want them to use the franchise tag on him. No other free agent looks like a viable candidate.

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