Nobody is quite sure if there is a point to the franchise tag this year.
The league argues that because it’s made before the CBA expires, it’s binding. The NFLPA seems to suggest that because it occurs after the CBA expires, it’s meaningless. But teams are still going to use it, and we’re all going to keep commenting on it, so let’s leave the issues of semantics to one side. Instead, I’m going to pretend to be General Manager for Franchise Day!
That’s right, in an idealistic world where all the owners are so preoccupied by walking out on meetings with the NFLPA, they’ve asked me (in my infinite wisdom) to franchise anyone I want on their roster. They trust me and so should you.
Buffalo: The tackle counts of Donte Whitner or Paul Posluszny just aren’t worth it. I’m saving our Canadian dollars on this one.
Miami: Having just found a quality nose tackle, do you think I’m going to be the guy that lets him go? Paul Soliai, you’re getting tagged.
New England: I know eventually Logan Mankins is going to move on to “greener” pastures. But I’d like him to stay one more year, and given the increase in guard contracts, it doesn’t hurt as much paying him like a left tackle for 2011. He won’t like me for it.
New York Jets: Dilemma time. David Harris is a big figure for the defense, but Santonio Holmes was so impressive in year number one I just have to have him for a second year.
Baltimore: You don’t want to lose a top corner in Josh Wilson, but there is absolutely no way you want to lose a guy who broke Ben Roethlisberger’s nose. Haloti Ngata is to Baltimore what … “The Wire” is to Baltimore?
Cincinnati: The Bengals will be a better team for letting a lot of guys walk. I am just not completely comfortable letting Johnathan Joseph be one of them. He was good enough in 2009 that I can see past the injured 2010, and risk overpaying in 2011.
Cleveland: We’ve already cut some good guys and saved some cash. These journeymen from the Mangenius regime may have a role to play, but I could risk losing them all and enjoy my rebuild all the more.
Pittsburgh: I remember how good Willie Colon was in 2009. A fine right tackle, but even with me trying to appease those who like to think outside the box, I can’t look past the excellent Lamarr Woodley.
Houston: While I’m tempted to work my magic with Matt Leinart, I resist the urge, instead opting to save Bob McNair some money and go about my business tidying the garage.
Indianapolis: Peyton Manning, will you report to the franchise tag room immediately.
Jacksonville: At the start of the season I earmarked him for a big year. With a smug look on my face and vindication in my gut, Marcedes Lewis, tag … you’re it.
Tennessee: Despite watching my best of Randy Moss DVD, I’m bypassing the one time super-duperstar and instead looking at the defense. I don’t want to lose Jason Babin or Stephen Tulloch. Man, being a GM is harder than it looks. Pass rushers are more of a premium, but linebackers are cheaper. Hoping Derrick Morgan could fill a potential void, I’m going with my man in the middle in Tulloch. How prudent.
Denver: Still a quality player, Champ Bailey won’t be allowed to leave. The young guns may be getting more press, but I know Bailey still has it.
Kansas City: If I have a guy who has generated more pressure than any other player in the league, do you think I’m letting him go? Tamba Hali will remain a Chief for at least one more year.
Oakland: Wow there’s a lot of players I want to franchise! Asomugha is off the table while Michael Huff is coming off one good year. You could say the same about Kamerion Wimbley, and we’re pretty stacked at defensive tackle and could cope without the excellent Richard Seymour. So Zach Miller seems like a good choice, but I’m going to follow my gut and get the biggest playmaker out there to stay. Richard Seymour, make us better.
San Diego: There are an awful lot of starters who could leave. But why would they want to? We’ve got great beaches, weather and light blue uniforms! Keeping the playmaking theme, Vincent Jackson will be given more dollars to prevent a holdout this year.
Dallas: I’d like for Doug Free to be a better pass protector. But I’d like more time to find out if he’s our guy. I’ll franchise him and see how 2011 works out for him. You have to speculate to accumulate at times.
New York Giants: I’m a big fan of Barry Cofield, and think losing him could really hurt that defensive line rotation. Plus it’s not my cash and I want to build a winner.
Philadelphia: Dang. Quintin Mikell is the best safety in the league and only I may know it, but not even that is going to stop me tagging Michael Vick.
Washington: I’d like for Santana Moss to stay, but it’s time to get economical. And there are no guys on the Redskins roster at an age where investing a lot of money in them makes sense. Dan, you owe me one.
Chicago: Not much work for me to other than decide if Danieal Manning has done enough in one year to warrant a tag. I like the player a lot, but with Major Wright coming through, it’s just not a sound investment.
Detroit: You’ll have to accept my apologizes for the confusion, as I took this GM gig at the last minute. But with three years service, is Cliff Avril restricted? I’d tie him down on that if I could, but if not I’d hold onto one of the keys of my defense.
Green Bay: While the rest of Wisconsin is celebrating, I’m at work. Typical. I try to devise a formula that measures if the injuries make Cullen Jenkins worth the money. The formula does not compute. I go with my gut and say if it ain’t broke, keep Cullen.
Minnesota: The best defensive end in Minnesota? Well I know it’s you, Ray Edwards. And I know you’ll be wearing purple for at least one more year with me in charge. Even if that does mean missing out on Sidney Rice and ignoring a phone call from Brett Favre’s agent.
Atlanta: A lot of good but not great players have their contract expiring. The most logical move? Tag the kicker, Matt Bryant, who won you games so you don’t upset the three offensive linemen with expiring contracts. I’m a modern thinker. Or it’s getting so late I’m making some irrational decisions.
Carolina: Ryan Kalil is one of the best young centers in the game. I want him to stay. It’s just we have uncovered one of the best defensive ends in the league in Charles Johnson, and pass rushers are at a premium as they (or is it me since I said it earlier) say.
New Orleans: We’re not scared to pay our guard big time, so there’s no issue tagging last year’s best guard Carl Nicks. He’s every bit as good as Jahri Evans.
Tampa Bay: With such a young roster of developing players, I take it easy when the commish phones to ask me if I’m tagging anyone. I say, “Rog, it’s all good. We play in a pirate ship and I’d rather walk the plank before handing over the Glazers ‘money to any of these guys.”
Arizona: I end up spending most of day chasing after Larry Fitzgerald who needs a suit taken in, a pool cleaned and his dog walked. I have a quick look at the impending free agents and realize it’s best to invest my time in that “Arizona Hearts Larry” rap I’m writing.
St. Louis: You know the last guy did a good job when he leaves you no work to do.
San Francisco: I’m left with a big decision: which Smith goes and which Smith stays. Eventually I can’t choose between them and decide to tag Aubrayo Franklin. He can play quarterback better than both of them anyway. As long as we get to keep Justin Smith, of course.
Seattle: Over the past three years there haven’t been many better defensive tackles than Brandon Mebane. Let the twelfth man cheer him on a bit longer.
And with that, I lose my General Manager responsibilities and return to the normal world. It won’t be easy readjusting to a life with no power, but I feel like I’ve done every team and the players right. So when your team needs a new general manager, tell them of what was achieved here. Tell them of Khaled Elsayed.