AFC North: Franchise Tags

PFF continues its tour of potential Franchise Tags with a stop in the AFC North thanks to John Kosko.

| 2 years ago
2015-FT-AFCN

AFC North: Franchise Tags


2015-FT-AFCNThe Franchise Tag option hasn’t been used by teams nearly as often in recent seasons as it was in 2011 and 2012, but it remains as a method of retaining top talent — even if it’s just buying time to work out a long-term deal. In many cases the numbers don’t add up or it just doesn’t make sense for one reason or another, but until you’ve had a look through a team’s cap situation and needs, it often not so easy to guess where the tags will be applied. To help with that, we’ll be giving our take in this division-by-division series.

Today we take a look at the AFC North and their potential tag targets.

Baltimore Ravens

Unless the Ravens free up cap space via cuts and restructuring current players contracts, the Ravens aren’t in any position to tag pending free agents. General Manager Ozzie Newsome decided against tagging any players last year when most thought offensive tackle Eugene Monroe would receive the gift. Newsome was able to work his magic to sign Monroe to a long term deal however. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee should be the first priority to bring back and while Newsome has tagged big names in the past (Ray Rice, Haloti Ngata, and Terrell Suggs), the limited cap space would make it very difficult to afford paying over $12 million to McPhee.

Decision: No tag.

Cincinnati Bengals

Clearly the Bengals have the freedom to tag any player they want to keep with their cap space. The problem though is that all of their pending free agents are role players, backups, or haven’t lived up to expectations. Guard Clint Boling had a productive year but since all offensive linemen are lumped together, paying an above average guard excess of $11 million doesn’t make sense. Tight end Jermaine Gresham has never proved he was worthy of a first round draft pick with injuries, below average run blocking, and under 1,000 yards receiving the past two season combined. The approximate $8 million hit simply isn’t worth the risk. The only player that could potentially receive the tag is kicker Mike Nugent, but for a player that missed two field goals under 40 yards, the $4 million hit might not be worth it either.

Decision: No tag.

Cleveland Browns

Ray Farmer had a busy and unpredictable offseason in his first year as GM last year so this year will be a bit of a mystery. The Browns have a bevy of solid players hitting free agency. Free safety Tashaun Gipson is set to become a restricted free agent along with inside linebacker Craig Robertson. Gipson will be top priority to bring back, but not via the tag. Jabaal Sheard had his best season in 2014, but it wasn’t good enough for a tag that would pay him over $12 million in 2015. The biggest question mark is TE Jordan Cameron. He had a breakout 2013 with high expectations for 2014, but several concussions derailed his season. Cameron’s ability as a pass catcher is obvious and he is a big threat in the pass game, but he is also a complete liability in the run game.

Decision: No tag.

Pittsburgh Steelers

With cap space in the red, the Steelers are in no position to tag any players. The Steelers would be wise to bring Jason Worilds back but tagging a player two years in a row becomes incredibly expensive. Cuts and contract restructuring need to happen in Pittsburgh before the Steelers can even think about tagging anyone.

Decision: No tag.

 

| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Riffle,Rod&Fly

    I’ve seen enough improvement in Jermaine Gresham to warrant keeping him around. He must be watching his cholesterol as the butter fingers are disappearing. He *is* an excellent blocker *some* of the time. Most importantly, he has chemistry with what appears to be an increasingly vulnerable QB. Maybe a one year tag will offer some motivation to push him over that hump. I can see him going to a better coached team and doing wonders. I don’t want to see that.

    • Tim Edell

      Jermaine Gresham is an average blocker and by no means a seam busting TE. To pay him 8 million to tag him would be ludicrous especially when they are getting back a healthy Tyler Eifert this year.

      • Riffle,Rod&Fly

        Yeah, looking at the current TE salaries the tag would be too much. I’m pretty sure he is a far above average pass blocker. He is more inconsistent than average. I see a difference between the two. He’ll probably end up somewhere else and do damage there. I’m all about Eifert, I chose them to pick him when mock drafts were all over the place. Two tight ends is better than one and there aren’t a whole lot of guys as out there versatile as Gresham.