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National Football League
Draft King Analysis

February 20, 2008
Lou Pickney,

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As expected, a number of decisions were made today involving NFL clubs and the use of the franchise tag on high-profile players. In one case, the use of a franchise tag lead to a long-term contract being signed; it's likely that others will follow.

Indianapolis proved to be quite savvy with its moves, signing safety Bob Sanders during the season and then using the franchise tag on tight end Dallas Clark. Today the Colts announced that they had signed a long-term deal with Clark. Such moves cost money, but the 2006 NFL champs have proven savvy by allowing more easily replaceable players to leave (Edgerrin James, Jason David, Nick Harper, and Cato June) while keeping core elements of its team together.

It was curious that the Panthers opted to franchise Jordan Gross. Gross, who plays right tackle, has made big money since being a top ten pick by Carolina in 2003. With the signing of left tackle Travelle Wharton to a long-term contract, it appears that the Panthers are content to stay with what they had at offensive tackle in 2007.

The Raiders used the exclusive version of the franchise tag on Nnamdi Asomugha. The guys over at Pro Football Talk know more about this than I do, but the exclusive tag means that no team can steal him away. A franchise player can sign with another team, but that team must give up two first round picks to do it. Apparently the Raiders were afraid of losing Asomugha since they used the exclusive tag. The only team to use the exclusive tag last year was Indianapolis, and that was to keep Dwight Freeney.

In a very interesting move, the Steelers used the transition free agency tag on offensive tackle Max Starks. That allows Pittsburgh the right of first refusal for any deal that Starks signs, though it brings up a potential "poison pill" situation for a team putting a rider on a contract that guarantees the entire deal if the parent team attempts to resign the player. It's like what happened with Steve Hutchinson in 2006 where Minnesota used a poison pill to steal him away.

Here is the full list of transition/franchise tags; the deadline for a team to use its tag is tomorrow. There's no word from New England (yet) on using the tag on Randy Moss.

Exclusive Franchise Tag
Oakland: Nnamdi Asomugha, CB

Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag
Indianapolis: Dallas Clark, TE (he has since signed a long-term contract with the Colts)
Green Bay: Corey Williams, DT
Tennessee: Albert Haynesworth, DT
Kansas City: Jared Allen, DE
Philadelphia: L.J. Smith, TE
Cincinnati: Stacy Andrews, OG
Carolina: Jordan Gross, OT
Seattle: Marcus Trufant, CB
Arizona: Karlos Dansby, OLB
Baltimore: Terrell Suggs, DE/OLB (his actual position is being debated; he'd make more money if classified as a defensive end)

Transition Tag
Pittsburgh: Max Starks, OT

Notice that most of the tags involve linemen, tight ends, and cornerbacks. You rarely see elite QBs (or even elite RBs) reach the point where they have the franchise tag used on them.

Let the fun begin tomorrow, as team representatives, scouts, and players begin arriving in Indianapolis for the 2008 NFL Combine.


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