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Franchise Tag Alters Free Agent Market

Posted by Gabe Hiatt on March 4, 2014 – 1:16 pm



The news of the day in the NFL Monday was unquestionably how teams would manipulate the franchise tag before the 4 p.m. deadline.

The Redskins applied the tag to Brian Orakpo while other teams made decisions that could affect how Washington approaches free agency beginning a week from Tuesday.


-Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington Redskins: The latest move by the Redskins proved preserving continuity is a major theme of their offseason plans.

-Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers: Generally regarded as the top pass rusher potentially available in free agency, Hardy was tagged last Friday and has reportedly already signed his tender.

-Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints: Graham was also tagged Friday, but the NFL announced Monday he would be designated as tight end and not a wide receiver.

-Nick Folk, K, New York Jets: The kicker was franchised on Friday.

Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns: The interior line market potentially took a hit Monday, when Cleveland used the transition tag on Mack. This means the Browns have the right to match any offer Mack may receive. If Cleveland elects not to match, it will not receive any sort of compensation if Mack leaves.

Jason Worilds, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers: The pass rusher from Virginia Tech could have been an option for the Redskins had they let Orakpo leave, but Pittsburgh kept the door open for Worilds to return by using the transition tag on Monday.


Open Season

The following players were not designated with a franchise or transition tag, and will therefore hit the open market as free agents on March 11 unless a new agreement is reached with their current teams.

-Jairus Byrd, S, Buffalo Bills: Byrd played last season under a one-year tag. Buffalo decided it would not tag him again. NFL Media rates Byrd as the best available free agent.

-Michael Bennett, DE / Golden Tate, WR, Seattle Seahawks: Staying true to statements made at the NFL Scouting Combine, the Seahawks did not use the franchise tag on any of their players.  Bennett is a long, rangy defensive end who played one season for the Super Bowl champs. Chris Cooley, for one, loves Bennett. Tate led Seattle in receiving yards and touchdown catches while contributing on punt and kick returns.

Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos: The No. 2 receiver in Denver will probably be free to test the market.

-Aqib Talib, CB, New England Patriots: Talib served as a lockdown corner for the Patriots in one season of work, but New England could let him leave. The Redskins have already re-signed one veteran defensive back this offseason.

Vontae Davis, CB, Indianapolis Colts: Chuck Pagano said the Colts have a plan in place for Davis, but that did not include using the franchise tag.

Eugene Monroe, T, Baltimore Ravens: Although the Ravens did not tag Monroe, coach John Harbaugh is reportedly optimistic Baltimore can retain the tackle.

-Jared Veldeheer, T / Lamarr Houston, DE, Oakland Raiders: Veldeheer has played primarily as a left tackle but has experience inside. Houston is capable of bouncing between tackle and end in a 4-3 scheme. Oakland declined to tag either player.

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