The St. Louis Rams will not be using the franchise tag on wide receiver Danny Amendola. No surprise. A one-year deal worth around $10 million is a little steep. There could be another way to keep him around and minimize the risk of him walking away in free agency: turn him into a tight end.
The Rams front office could use the transition tag for a tight end, according to Adam Caplan. That would mean a one-year deal worth a more modest $5.19 million and the right to match any other team's offer. There's another side effect of such a move: bad blood.
Caplan points out that it's just a rumor, and a ridiculous one at that. Amendola has not lined up as a tight end, which could be a big problem in making the case for tagging him at that position. He also weighs 185 pounds and stands 5-foot-10, which isn't exactly what scouts look for in a tight end.
More to the point, such a move could really backfire on the Rams. Players tend not to like bad faith negotiations, for obvious reasons. It's the same reason teams don't restructure contracts at the drop of a hat, not unless there's a real need to do so.
Another reason such a move seems unlikely is that the Rams front office expects Amendola to reach free agency this year, a chance to test the market with barely more than a week to go.
The two sides have been talking. We have no idea how those talks are proceeding, and whether or not they're even remotely close to something. There was one notable incident that happened with the Rams brought in Titus Young. Erik Burkhardt, his agent, made comments to the Post-Dispatch about the move and Young's previous statement that he was better than Calvin Johnson.
Ultimately, Burkhardt was right: signing Young had no impact on contract talks, since the Rams dumped Young less than two weeks after signing him.
You can imagine Burkhardt's reaction to his client getting labeled as a tight end.
But what about the issue with the Titans and Jared Cook, who claims that he should be tagged as a wide receiver? The difference there is that Cook has a viable argument because the Titans did line him up out wide on a significant number of his snaps.
This is a rumor, the first of many we'll be treated to in the months ahead. The key here is to ask who would gain the most by putting this information out there? The Rams? Amendola's agent? Neither side would get any real advantage from putting this out there. The one-year cost of the tight end transition tag lines up with Amendola's fair market value, but the team wouldn't put its price out there for other suitors to sense, not with free agency days away and competitors with more than a little cap space to use. PFT suggested that the team could have put it out there to ward off tampering teams chasing the free agent, but all they would have to do is wait until 4pm Monday to pick it up again ... it's not a tough bluff to call.
Amendola's side could put that out there to telegraph what kind of number the Rams are offering, and what a suitor would need to beat to match it. Again, more speculation. We'll probably know more over the weekend, when the three-day negotiating window opens for teams and free agents ahead of Tuesday's start to free agency.