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Will the Los Angeles Rams use the franchise tag by Tuesday’s deadline?

What does the Rams’ recent history say about their view of the franchise tag?

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NFL: JAN 17 NFC Wild Card - Cardinals at Rams Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that the NFL combine is in the rearview mirror, attention turns to free agency and the chance for teams to resign their own players, including the use of the franchise tag. With the March 8 4pm ET deadline to tag players mere hours away, general managers around the league must decide if the tool is an option that best suits the construction of their roster. Is there a chance that Les Snead and the Los Angeles Rams decide to use the franchise tag this year?

Per the usual, the Rams are currently projected to be one of nine teams over 2022 salary cap, as LA sits right at $20 million over the cap, according to Spotrac.com. Following Snead’s history, Rams’ fans know there are numerous ways to get back under the salary cap, if the organization saw fit to use the franchise tag on one of their unrestricted free agents. Another note to consider when analyzing Snead’s recent track record is the fact that he hasn’t used the franchise tag since 2018.

However, it is interesting to look back at the position group that the Rams’ general manager has addressed via the tag in the past. As previously mentioned, Snead last used the franchise tag in 2018, choosing to sign safety LaMarcus Joyner to the one-year guaranteed pact. Prior to that, Snead used it on cornerback Trumaine Johnson in both 2016 and 2017.

Since it is clear Snead has shown the propensity to use the franchise tag on defensive backs — though that’s not to say he can’t or won’t use it on another position group — a quick glance at the Rams pending free agent defensive backs (Darious Williams and Donte Deayon) makes it clear that a Rams DB will not get the tag this year. If Williams’ 2021 campaign was comparable to his 2020 season, when Pro Football Focus ranked him as the fourth best cornerback in the NFL, I’d be more open to that idea. But, as it currently stands, Los Angeles will not use the franchise tag for the fourth year in a row.