Franchise-tag period ends quietly

BY Mike Garafolo • July 15, 2013

And so ends one of the quietest NFL franchise-tag negotiating periods ever.

Teams had until 4 p.m. ET on Monday to negotiate with the eight players who were tagged this year, and only one — the Denver Broncos' Ryan Clady — got himself a long-term deal. The other seven who received the tag must now play under the one-year offer, with the Buffalo Bills' Jairus Byrd the only one who hasn't signed the tender.

“We worked very hard to come to a long-term agreement with Jairus, but unfortunately, were unable to reach one before today’s deadline," Bills GM Doug Whaley said in a statement. "Our attention will now be focused on a one-year agreement with him and on training camp with our continued efforts to prepare our team for the upcoming season.”

There were some discussions Monday between the Cincinnati Bengals and defensive end Michael Johnson, though those talks never came close to making either side optimistic, a source told FOX Sports. The same went with Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert, whose representatives didn't have lengthy discussions with Chiefs brass Monday.

Defensive tackles Henry Melton (Chicago Bears) and Randy Starks (Miami Dolphins) seemed destined to play for their $8.45 million tenders from the jump. Melton told the Chicago Tribune early Monday there would be no long-term agreement before the deadline, so clearly there were no late discussions there.

Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee will make $2.977 million under the tag this season, and linebacker Anthony Spencer gets a salary of $10.627 million from the Dallas Cowboys.

Many of the franchise players are making more over one season than the average per year (APY) of the long-term contracts players at their position received in free agency. That's why these players — minus Byrd — rushed to sign the tags and why there was less of an incentive for them to sign longer deals. Teams weren't offering deals with significantly higher average payouts per season. The Broncos did, and Clady decided to take $33 million guaranteed and the chance to earn more than $11 million per season over a five-year deal.

Clady was the exception to the rule this year. The rest will head toward unrestricted free agency — and maybe another tag — next offseason, which could flood the market with more talent next spring.