AFC South: Franchise Tags

The Colts have had their way with the AFC South but face key roster decisions just like the other division teams and Jim Seki takes a look at each team ...

| 2 years ago
2015-FT-AFCS

AFC South: Franchise Tags


2015-FT-AFCSThe 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 look at the AFC South and any players that might be franchise tagged. Even though three of the four AFC South teams are flush with salary cap space, justification is needed to lock up a player for the 2015 season at such steep prices.

Tennessee Titans

Derrick Morgan was the best candidate for the franchise tag but looks like he will test free agency. That leaves options like veterans left tackle Michael Roos or wide receiver Nate Washington, but both are coming off subpar years. Roos will turn 33 in October and only played the first five games due to a torn ACL, allowing the youngster Taylor Lewan to gain some much-needed experience. Washington, 31, ended the year as the 96th rated receiver (of 110) and a miniscule 1.26 Yards Per Pass Route Run (YPPR). With figures like that there is no way the Titans pony up for him like they did six years ago. Even though the Titans have the fifth-most cap space, franchising either player is not worth it.

Decision: No tag

Jacksonville Jaguars

The two options for the Jags appear to be defensive end Tyson Alualu and wide receiver Cecil Shorts, but neither makes sense. Alualu has seen his yearly defensive snap rate decrease starting in 2012 from 73.1%, 66.2%, then 41.4%, amassing an overall -50.5 grade. While Shorts has a respectable offensive snaps played rate, the productivity is just not there. Despite having over 100 targets in each of the last three seasons, his YPPR has decreased each year. The Jags have the most cap space in the league with over $62 million and can get more value on the dollar elsewhere.

Decision: No tag

Houston Texans

Cornerback Kareem Jackson would be the “frontrunner” for the franchise tag but really all the tag worthy players are longshots. Five years removed from Alabama, Jackson finished with a +9.6 coverage grade this season, good for seventh among corners. While he was in the top 25% in areas like overall grading, yards per completion, and NFL rating when targeted, he trended more towards average relative to our proprietary PFF Signature Stats. In this case the Texans’ lack of cap space will not only be the downfall, but could also open the door for a corner-needy team to lure Jackson elsewhere.

Decision: No tag

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts had one of the oldest rosters in 2014 in terms of average age but have the opportunity to keep a young player in linebacker Jerrell Freeman. Speculation of a potential franchise tag started back in August, but Freeman suffered a drop-off from 2013 not only in his overall grade but all four PFF Signature Stats for inside linebackers (Run Stop Percentage, Pass Rushing Productivity, Tackling Efficiency, and Coverage). Colts executives have over $30 million in cap space to use but have to be apprehensive of using it on Freeman. It makes more sense for the Colts to put together an incentivized, multi-year deal for Freeman.

Decision: No tag

 

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  • Jaguars28

    Cecil Shorts is so overrated… why does everyone think he’s such a great receiver?

    • Tyler Ferree

      I really veiw him as good #2 reciever, nothing more, nothing less.

      • Jaguars28

        I don’t even think he’s a good #3. Fantasy stats aren’t everything.

        • Tim Edell

          I defnitely think Robinson is a #3 WR in the NFL

          • Jaguars28

            Is that a good thing? I think Robinson should be our #2

    • JonLee

      It can’t be easy, catching passes from the three-headed ogre (Henne, Gabbert, and Bortles).

      • Jaguars28

        It’s not like he’s necessarily helping them, though. He got outperformed by a UDFA rookie (Hurns) and a late second-round rookie (Robinson)

  • Tim Edell

    Nate Washington? Haha was his name brought up just to take up space? If he wasnt a fan favorite and a good locker room presence he wouldn’t even be brought back.

  • Kyle J. Rodriguez

    Freeman is a restricted free agent. It never would have made sense to tag him. Tender him and call it good.