The franchise tag hasn’t really figured into the recent history of the Falcons’ franchise. Last year it wasn’t used and in 2009 and 2010 it used was used on Punter Michael Koenan.
This year, the decision to use the franchise tag could be a little more complex. With the Falcons facing a lot of their key players hitting free agency (Check out the Falcons’ free agency preview Part 1 & Part 2) the franchise tag could be used on a non kicker for the first time in 4 years.
As I see it there are only two players that have a legitimate of being tagged by the Falcons and they are LB Curtis Lofton & CB Brent Grimes.
LB Curtis Lofton – To tag a linebacker in 2012 with the franchise tag, would cost the team $8.8 million on a one year guaranteed deal. It my opinion tagging Lofton makes little sense unless there is literally no more time for a long term deal to get done. Lofton, 25 is entering his prime and should be a part of the Falcons long term future. He is proven and certainly warrants a 5 or 6 year deal, a one year franchise tag would simple stick a bandage over the problem for another year. It could well come back and cost more in the long run, given the high cost of the franchise tag and inflation, meaning a contract given to Lofton next year (if he’s given one obviously!) will cost more to the team than it would do if one was given out this year.
Verdict – 10% chance he gets tagged.
CB Brent Grimes – To tag a cornerback in 2012 with the franchise tag, would cost the team $10.6 million on a one year guaranteed deal. This move makes some sense. Grimes has been the best defensive back for the Falcons the past two seasons by a long way and to lose him would be a big blow. However the dilemma for the Falcons right now is it sensible to give Grimes a long term deal. Grimes, 28 is not old by any means and could certainly play another 5 years in the league. The trouble for the Falcons is will his small stature hold up for that lengthy period of time. The other question is does he fit the Falcons new defensive scheme under DC Mike Nolan, who in the past has favoured bigger corners. The outlay of $10 million plus is also a concern given Atlanta only has about $20 million in cap space.
Verdict – 60% chance he gets tagged. He is too valuable a player to simply let walk. If he features in the Falcons long term plans then great, as it buys them more time to get a deal done. If he isn’t maybe he could be dealt and the Falcons could get a few picks back in return.
How do you think will receive the franchise tag? Enter your comments below.