With the three week window that teams will have to negotiate with their free agent players already under way, several names are emerging as possible targets for franchise tags. Here’s a look at some of the players that seem the most likely to be tagged.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis
While Marcedes Lewis may not be the most popular name on this list, his 2010 performance has made in a valuable commodity in Jacksonville. Vito Stellino of the Florida Times Union writes that Jaguars intend tag him in the coming weeks.
ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky offers his take on the idea.
“Lewis has long been a key player in the Jaguars’ running attack, and this is going to continue be a run-based team. He was more of a threat in the passing game and consistently found his way into the end zone in 2010. He’d be a popular guy on the open market, and is too good of a player for the Jaguars to let get away. If he got away, Maurice Jones-Drew, David Garrard, a drafted quarterback, the offensive line and the receivers would all suffer as a result.”
Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning
The idea that Peyton Manning will end up playing for another team other the Colts is as far fetched as any. Indianapolis remembers how things were before Manning was running their offense and that’s enough to give him what ever it’ll take to keep him in town for the years to come.
According to Mike Chappell of the Indianapolis Star, Colts president Bill Polian mentioned that the plan for Manning is to tag him if they aren’t able to come to a longterm agreement within the next few weeks. Chappell writes that the Colts will try to get a deal done with Manning which would allow them to use the tag on another player.
If Manning is tagged the Colts are expected to be paying him roughly $23 million for 2011. This number could be the starting point for a longterm agreement.
Baltimore Ravens – Haloti Ngata
Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that the Ravens intend to franchise defensive tackle Haloti Ngata before the upcoming deadline.
Baltimore is said to have Ngata listed as their top priority as they head into the offseason. If Ngata hits the free agent market he will be one of the top players that could be available and he’ll have plenty of teams to choose from but you can expect to see Ngata playing for the Ravens once the 2011 season starts.
Pittsburgh Steelers – Lamarr Woodley
Steelers linebacker Lamarr Woodley has proven his worth while playing in the league best defense for the last few years. Pittsburgh is more than aware of Woodley’s importance to their defensive scheme and as Albert Breer of NFL.com has reported, they have already indicated that they intend to tag him.
ESPN AFC North blogger James Walker was able to some comments from Woodley regarding the possible franchise tag.
“Nah, I wouldn’t be against it at all,” Woodley said on Feb. 3. “Whatever happens, happens. Would you like to have a long-term contract? Yeah. But a franchise tag, it doesn’t matter to me.”
San Diego Chargers – Vincent Jackson
Yesterday we wrote about the possibility that San Diego ends franchising Vincent Jackson for nest season. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Charger GM A.J. Smith has yet to decide whether or not they will franchise Jackson but adds that Smith has been supportive of the idea not to long ago. Acee goes on the mention that Jackson is willing to be tagged for the upcoming season despite not getting the longterm deal that he held out for this season.
There is little doubt that the Chargers are a better team will Jackson on the field and given that both Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are set to be free agents, retaining Jackson could have a big impact on the teams success next season.
Oakland Raiders – Richard Seymour
Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland Raiders what to have Seymour back next season and are prepared to use their franchise tag on him for the second consecutive year.
Despite being 31, Seymour has maintained his high level of play and losing him via free agency would leave the Raiders will a large hole that would be tough fill. Keeping Seymour gives that Raiders defense options which is something that they’ll need until they figure out if they’re going to run a 3-4 for a 4-3 next season.
One last thing worth noting, NFL Networks Jason La Canfora writes that a league source has told him that TE Zach Miller expects to get the franchise tag, so the team may have to decide to use the transition tag on one of Seymour or Miller if they intend keep both without signing them to longterm deals.