Playing Tag: Cassel First of Several Stars Who May Be Franchised
A franchise tag locks a pending free agent into a one-year contract for a pre-determined salary (Cassel will earn $14.65 million next season). A transition tag, on the other hand, allows a team to match any contract offer made to a particular player by another team. A quick look at some of the big names that might be subjected to one of the two comes after the jump.
- Albert Haynesworth, Titans: If Tennessee keeps its word -- the Titans promised to let Haynesworth become a 2009 free agent after using a franchise tag on him in 2008 -- then the dominating defensive lineman doesn't belong on here. I can't imagine it would be an amorous situation if Tennessee backs out on its word and franchises him again, so unless this contract gets settled by Feb. 19, Haynesworth will likely have a new uniform next season. If Haynesworth leaves, that opens the door for a Rob Bironas tagging.
- Ray Lewis or Terrell Suggs, Ravens: Baltimore's got some work to do this offseason. In addition to this pair of studs, Bart Scott is a free agent as well. Lewis, for one, has already said he won't take a discount to stay in Baltimore and wouldn't mind playing for the Jets. The Ravens will almost certainly need to franchise one of the Lewis-Suggs combo -- and the safe money is on Lewis, since Suggs apparently wants to return on his own.
- T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Bengals: Chad Johnson Ocho Cinco Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious stated that Housh wanted to come back to Cincy. Uh ... on the other hand, Houshmandzadeh said he'd play for Philadelphia in a second. The Bengals will almost certainly have to drop the franchise tag on Housh to keep him around, but can Cincinnati afford $9.88 million on a No. 2 receiver?
- Kurt Warner or Karlos Dansby, Cardinals: Dansby was Arizona's franchise player this year, which is why he believes he should be first in line for a bulky new contract. Assuming Arizona can get Dansby to come back on his own (which is a definite possibility), then Warner is in the crosshairs. One worry, though, is that you don't want to use a franchise tag on a retiring player.
- Nnamdi Asomugha, Raiders: Unless Oakland can somehow convince Asomugha that he can't find a better situation elsewhere -- by better situation, I mean on a team that's not horrendous -- then Al Davis will have no choice but to franchise him or let him walk. The latter would be monumentally stupid. If Asomugha does actually sign an extension, don't be surprised to see Oakland use the tag on punter Shane Lechler.
- Dunta Robinson, Texans: Behind Asomugha, Robinson might be the most coveted cornerback that could potentially hit the market. Houston's working hard to get Robinson signed, but a delay would force the Texans to use the franchise tag simply to ensure that the contract gets finished.
- Julius Peppers or Jordan Gross, Panthers: Peppers has already informed Carolina that he wants to play for someone else next season. Using the franchise tag on him would be for the exclusive purpose of getting something back in a trade. Should the Panthers miraculously sign Peppers or, for some reason, let him just waltz away, Gross could get tagged for the second-straight season.
- LeRoy Hill, Seahawks: Seattle would really like to have Hill in the 2009 linebacking corps, but as with all rebuilding teams faced with the franchise tag decision, the Seahawks will have to decide if eight-plus million dollars can be better used elsewhere.
- Antonio Bryant, Bucaneers: The 2009 free agent receiving class isn't sensational, especially if Houshmandzadeh gets locked up by Philadelphia, so Bryant will be a hot commodity -- except there's a very legit chance that Tampa Bay never gives him that chance. On the other hand for the Bucs, Bryant's solid, but $10-million-a-year solid?
Other names to keep an eye on: Channing Crowder or Yeremiah Bell, Dolphins; Jason Hanson, Lions; Jonathan Vilma, Saints; O.J. Atogwe, Rams; Shayne Graham, Bengals