In the weeks since the season ended, fans and pundits alike have had plenty to say about the status of St. Louis Rams' free agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. One question not being asked that probably should be, is whether or not the team should use the franchise tag to keep Lloyd? The notion of tagging Lloyd deserves some serious consideration.
Read more about the circumstances, costs and the deadline for tagging Lloyd after the jump. Then, vote in the poll and join the discussion.
Using the tag, would put the Rams on the hook for a one-year salary of $9.4 million. Thanks to a new system of calculating franchise tag amounts in the new CBA, that number is lower than the $11.4 million it was under the old CBA.
That looks like a big chuck of salary, and it is, given the team's other needs and interests, notably cornerback Cortland Finnegan.
Rams COO Kevin Demoff told TST on Friday that the Rams are anticipating, for now, approximately $10 million in cap space. That reaffirms our previous conversation, from this fall, with Demoff about anticipated cap space for 2011. According to Demoff, that's based on the assumption that everyone under contract returns at their current amount. Obviously that will change for several reasons. Cuts, restructured contracts, and all the other factors teams can use to finagle cap space will be the key to off season roster changes.
The money to franchise Lloyd should not be seen as a significant obstacle.
The argument for or against franchising Lloyd is one of opportunity costs (back to your Intro to Business textbooks for that one).
Tagging Lloyd would almost certainly remove the Rams from the race to pursue other free agent receivers, such as Vincent Jackson. Is that worth it? It would probably be a cheaper to use the franchise tag, leaving them options for 2013. It would also limit free agent options at other positions.
Bringing Lloyd back in 2012 would give the team more options in the 2012 NFL Draft. For one thing, they would be under no pressure to draft Justin Blackmon at a higher draft spot than he deserves. That flexibility would be especially attractive if they do not trade down from the second spot in the draft.
More than anything, bringing Lloyd back under the tag sews up a major need for the Rams offense. Lloyd along with a healthy Danny Amendola, progress from Greg Salas and Lance Kendricks would give them a decent base in the passing game. (No, I'm not counting on much from Danario Alexander and his five knee surgeries, the stone-handed Austin Pettis or any of the other holdovers). They would still need to add some explosiveness to that group of receivers, but going into the off season with Lloyd on board is a good starting place.
Teams can begin using franchise tags on Monday and may continue to do so until March 5.