NFC South: Franchise Tags

Is there a tag to be given out in the South? Mike Renner looks through the options to offer a plan for each team.

| 2 years ago

NFC South: Franchise Tags

2015-FT-NFCSThe 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’s focus is on the NFC South and their potential tag targets.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The franchise tag conversation for the Bucs ended in October when Gerald McCoy signed his seven-year, $95m extension. Tampa Bay doesn’t have a single impending free agent with more than 50 snaps who graded positively last season. Mason Foster and Major Wright are the only free agents that saw over 500 snaps for the Bucs last season, but neither is remotely close to franchise money. Tampa Bay will have a serious decision to make this time next year though. Lavonte David is entering the final year of his rookie deal and should command top dollar at the outside linebacker position.

Decision: No tag

Carolina Panthers

With the Greg Hardy debacle last season and their reported plans to part ways this offseason, the Panthers will be hesitant to take the franchise tag plunge again this year. Thankfully that decision is all but made for them with PFF’s second-worst left tackle from 2014 Byron Bell being the lone full-time starter approaching free agency. That’s good news for Panthers fans, though, as it means they’ll return all of their key contributors in 2015.

Decision: No tag

Atlanta Falcons

This is the only team in the division that I could envision using the franchise tag, but the chances here are still almost zero percent. Matt Bryant was PFF’s All-Pro selection at kicker in 2014 after he hit all 22 field goals inside 50 yards. His production certainly warrants a Top-5 contract, but he’ll be 40 years old next season and a long-term deal doesn’t seem prudent for the Falcons. The biggest sticking point here is the $4 million price tag for franchising. No kicker currently has a contract that averages $4 million a year and it’s hard to imagine Bryant’s asking price in free agency will be quite that high. If there is a dramatic increase in the cap though, wages will rise across the board, so this is one to keep an eye on.

Decision: No tag.

New Orleans Saints

No free agents seriously belong in the franchise tag discussion for the Saints. Mark Ingram and Jonathan Goodwin are the two biggest contributors hitting free agency, but neither is remotely viable as a franchise player. Goodwin may have been worthy of the tag it in the past, but is on an obvious decline at 36 years of age with his worst ever PFF grade in 2014. Ingram has been far too one-dimensional and will be had for considerably less than the $10 million that the running back tag would require.

Decision: No tag


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner

| Senior Analyst

Mike is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has also been featured on The Washington Post, ESPN Insider, and 120 Sports.

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