NFL franchise-tag deadline ends with a bang
As the deadline to place the franchise tag on players approached, some teams were steadfast in their approach, while others made some last-minute moves.
The two-week period when teams can place an exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag on one of their impending free agents came to an end at 4 p.m. ET on Monday. Let’s take a look at some the most notable moves that were made a week before the free-agency frenzy:
General manager Ray Farmer has been faced with some tough decisions since he took over the operation nearly three weeks ago. His first move was placing the transition tag on Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. It’s a bit of a surprise that the team took this approach as they’ll be paying him in the range of offensive tackle money ($10 million in 2014). The transition tag means that Mack can still sign an offer sheet from another team, but Cleveland would have five days to match. If Mack were to leave, the Browns would receive nothing in return as to where a non-exclusive franchise tag would grant them two first-round picks.
Pittsburgh also made a surprising move by transition tagging linebacker Jason Worilds. The one-year deal will net Worilds $9.754 million, whereas the franchise tag would have cost the Steelers $11.455 million. The move may indicate that the team is looking to part ways with LaMarr Woodley, who is due a hefty amount in 2014.
Three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Orakpo will remain with the Redskins next season as the team placed their non-exclusive tag on him. While Orakpo will receive $11.455 million in compensation, he is still hopeful that a long-term extension can get done.
"I don’t have a problem with the decision [the Redskins] made, but I still want a long-term deal,” Orakpo told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “This is new to me. I’m just letting this play out to the end. I’m excited to be with the Redskins as of right now, but now we will go from here," he said.
"It’s always good to try and finish up with the team that drafted you. However, it is a business and I understand the business. If it works out, then it works out. At the very least, I’m happy they took this step forward."
The Saints placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham on Friday. The curious part of this move is if the Saints will pay Graham as a tight end or a wide receiver. Graham would earn $6.066 million as a tight end, but would receive $10.537 million if he’s paid as a wide receiver. Graham’s representation will likely cite the fact that he lines up as a wide receiver more than a traditional tight end would. The non-exclusive tag allows Graham to work out a long-term deal with another team. The Saints would then have a chance to match the offer, but if they didn’t they would receive two first round picks.
Greg Hardy has been one of the most productive players at the defensive end position and the Panthers weren’t going to allow him to hit the open market. General manager Dave Gettleman chose to place the tag on Hardy on Friday, which will net him $13.116 million. A long-term deal could get hammered out in the meantime as Carolina would love to reduce that meaty salary-cap number.
The Jets decided to place the team’s franchise tag on kicker Nick Folk, who had the best seasons of his seven-year career in 2013 by connecting on 92 percent of his field goals. He will earn $2.9 million.