Today’s a pretty important day on the NFL calendar as it’s the first day NFL teams can use the franchise tag.
As explained by our Jon Benne over at the mothership:
The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract that guarantees a predetermined salary for players. The salary amount is set by the averaging the top five salaries by position, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of a player’s salary the previous season.
CBS Sports’ Joel Corry has his estimates of how much the tag will be for each position this year:
Running backs: $12.377m
Wide receivers: $15.826m
Tight ends: $9.894m
Offensive linemen: $14.444m
Defensive tackles: $13.468m
Defensive ends: $16.955m
The Los Angeles Rams elected to use the franchise tag on CB Trumaine Johnson last year. That delayed any long-term deal with Tru beyond last season but also opened up CB Janoris Jenkins for free agency, an opening he took to by signing with the New York Giants.
Now the Rams have a difficult decision to make with Johnson who may not be preferred by new Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips in the manner he was under former DC Gregg Williams. Connor Howe made that link more explicit in a piece at SBN this morning:
In hindsight, the Rams probably wish they would’ve tagged Janoris Jenkins instead of Johnson last season. After registering seven interceptions in 2015, Johnson only picked off one pass last year. With new leadership taking over in Los Angeles, it’s likely Johnson isn’t even in the Rams’ long-term plans. A reunion between Johnson and former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (now with the Browns, who have plenty of money to spend after cutting corner Tramon Williams) seems like a sensible move for both parties.
While the Rams have a decision to make regarding Tru’s long-term applicability and their evaluation of his monetary value to the team moving forward, there are also likely concurrent discussions with other potential free agents coming out of the 2016 roster.
If the Rams either re-sign Trumaine Johnson or opt not to make that effort in full, they could apply the tag to someone else starting today. Is Kenny Britt too valuable right now in a talent-thinned WR corps to let test the market? Is the kicker position too volatile to allow Greg Zuerlein to leave? Is T.J. McDonald a commodity that can’t be shed? AND WHAT ABOUT CASE KEENUM?!?!
The Rams used the tag on Tru at the deadline last year which falls on March 1 again this year. There’s no certainty that any application of the tag this year will come immediately, but for new Head Coach Sean McVay, the calendar pages are flipping quickly.
Today, the tag is available. The NFL Scouting Combine starts in less than two weeks. Then two weeks from today at 4pm, the window to apply the tag closes. Less than a week later, free agency negotiations are available. Three weeks from tomorrow, free agency begins at large.
Hold on to your seats...