Last year, the Browns tagged kicker Phil Dawson a year ago with their franchise tag and paid the veteran kicker $3.25 million. While Dawson may have wanted a longer term deal from the team, a 36-year-old kicker can’t really ask for much better time to be tagged and guaranteed a bigger lump sum, albeit for a single year.
This year, it will be interesting to see if the Browns choose to use the tag and if so, on whom.
The period for franchising players starts today and runs through March 5th. This is the first year that the new rules from the latest collective bargaining agreement are in place as well.
They are the product of a very complicated formula, but ultimately it reduces the cost somewhat.
Quarterback: $14.4 million (down from $16.1 million in 2011, $16.4 million in 2010)
Running back: $7.7 million (down from $9.6 million in 2011, $8.2 million in 2010)
Wide receiver: $9.4 million (down from 11.4 million in 2011, $9.5 million in 2010)
Tight end: $5.4 million (down from $7.3 million in 2011, $5.9 million in 2010)
Offensive line: $9.4 million (down from $10.1 million in 2011, $10.7 million in 2010)
Defensive end: $10.6 million (down from $13 million in 2011, $12.4 million in 2010)
Defensive tackle: $7.9 million (down from $12.5 million in 2011; it was $7 million in 2010)
Linebacker: $8.8 million (down from $10.1 million in 2011, $9.7 million in 2010)
Cornerback: $10.6 million (down from $13.5 million in 2011; tag was $9.6 million in 2010)
Safety: $6.2 million (down from $8.8 million in 2011, $6.5 million in 2010)
Obviously the easy target for the Browns is a guy they’ve stated all along they want to keep in a Browns uniform with D’Qwell Jackson. Jackson made a strong bid for comeback player of the year and if the Browns are unable to get him on a long-term deal it would cost them $8.8 million to keep him for one season on the franchise tag. Jackson was a rock for the Browns and was second in the NFL in tackles with 158. That doesn’t begin to say that Jackson is worth $8.8 million, necessarily.
As much as we all like Jackson and his effort, we also know the illusion of gaudy tackle numbers. It isn’t a negative stat, but it also isn’t necessarily as positive as everyone thinks it is. Andra Davis made tons of tackles for the Browns too, but let’s just say they weren’t behind the line of scrimmage all that frequently.
Also, as you know, the Browns can only tag one player. So tagging D’Qwell Jackson is an opportunity cost of tagging someone else. There really is only one other potential target for the tag outside of D’Qwell Jackson and that is Peyton Hillis.
It seems unlikely that the Browns would use the tag on Hillis as they’ve seemed lukewarm on his return for quite some time. Still, a lot can change as a team starts to plan their off-season. And consider that the Baltimore Ravens face an off-season where Ray Rice wants Adrian Peterson type cash in the neighborhood of 7-years and $100 million with $36 million guaranteed.
A franchise tag gives a team some leverage to get a guy signed up for a longer term deal. It was reported that the Browns scoffed at the prospect of giving Hillis a guaranteed $10 million in earlier contract talks. You’d have to assume if they franchised him for $7.7 million that they’d be looking to put him on a longer term deal with more than that $7.7 million guaranteed. So, again, I don’t see it as being all that likely, but I think it should be something the Browns consider.
But they can’t consider it if they don’t get D’Qwell Jackson signed to a long-term deal first. If they’re forced to use the tag on someone like Jackson, who I think is a higher priority than Hillis, then they won’t even have the option with Hillis, let alone anyone else.
And we haven’t even gotten into unrestricted free agent corner/safety Mike Adams.