Welcome to franchise tag season. Starting today, NFL teams have until March 3rd to protect their rights to one of their upcoming unrestricted free agents with the use of a franchise or transition tag.
Unlike the previous two years, the Broncos are not going to use a franchise tag. There are two reasons why.
First, teams use the franchise tag on a player they intend to keep long-term. In previous instances (Matt Prater in 2012 and Ryan Clady in 2013), both free agents were players the Broncos intended to keep. The franchise tag was a way to keep them locked with the Broncos while the player's reps and the Broncos negotiated a long-term deal. In both instances, the deal got done in time, and Denver's asset was locked up. There's no one in this free agent pool the Broncos are dead-set on keeping the way they were with Prater (whose franchise tag came cheap) and Clady (who was thought to be invaluable) the past two years.
Second, with only
$6 million $12 million in space right now and Chris Harris' expected second-round tender soon to come, the Broncos just can't afford the franchise tag this year.
For the sake of thoroughness, though, consider the Broncos' top upcoming free agents for today's Six-Pack. Here's what it would have cost to keep them with a franchise tag in 2013 - you can expect a very similar salary cap hit for 2014:
- WR Eric Decker - $10.53 million. The Broncos can't pay Wes Welker and Decker a combined $18 million when they're only paying Demaryius Thomas $4.7M.
- CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - $10.85 million. Champ Bailey is too expensive to make this happen, and DRC's pre-Super Bowl comments about retiring would make any team gun shy.
- RB Knowshon Moreno - $8.21 million. It would seem the Broncos drafted Montee Ball with Moreno's departure in mind.
- OG Zane Beadles - $9.82 million. Ludicrous for a guard.
- DE Shaun Phillips or DE Robert Ayers - $11,175 million. Neither have the pass rush repertoire to be worth this.
- S Mike Adams - $6.91 million. He made less over the past two years combined.
Sports Illustrated breaks down some possible franchise tag candidates, including the Chargers' Donald Butler.
The Michael Sam story has unearthed a range of opinions - Chris Chase adds his more-than-two-cents here including one in our FanPosts with which I disagree strongly. It opened up a lot of discussion though, and it was someone speaking their mind. I am happy with the respectful discourse that took place in the comments on a sensitive issue there; thank you.
Mark Schlereth talks about the NFL locker room "code" in this column reprimanding Richie Incognito. Strong stuff from Stink.
Legwold breaks down Denver's wide receivers. The Broncos' official site has video highlights of the best of Peyton Manning and Julius Thomas.