If you feel a little left out in all of the franchise tag mele on Monday, don't worry, the St. Louis Rams could have plenty of tag drama next year with a handful of contracts expiring after this season. Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, both lynchpins on the defense, finish out their rookie deals this year, and there are other players ticketed for free agency.
After the jump, a look at the players who will be unrestricted free agents and some potential implications.
Alright, Long and Laurinaitis are the big ones. The franchise tender for defensive ends this year was $10.6 million. It was $8.8 for linebackers, a sticking point for teams that use the tag on rush linebackers in a 3-4 system. Those amounts should rise next season.
Another name to put on the list is wide receiver Danny Amendola, who enters his fourth season playing on a $1.97 milloin restricted free agent tender. Again and again, Amendola's name keeps coming up for role he is expected to play in bringing Sam Bradford along. If it pans out like that, it may be hard for the Rams to let him go, unless Greg Salas can emerge as a legitimate replacement. The franchise tag for receivers this year was worth $9.5 million. If New England lets Wes Welker walk, expect them to be interested.
Bradley Fletcher is also set for free agency in 2013, but he is an unlikely candidate for the franchise tag given his injury history, the $10.2 million cost and a bevvy of young players brought in this year.
One likely casualty in all of this is Jason Smith. After restructuring his contract, his 2013 payout comes in the form of an $11 million roster bonus and a $750,000 salary. Barring a super star like season, no team would likely suffer that cost. If he gets by as adequate, which the Rams really need, the payout is still too much for a league-average tackle. They could sign him to an extension, reworking the number, but at this point it is hard to envision a scenario where Smith is part of the Rams next season on his current contract.