Analysis: Folk tag makes sense ... for Jets

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28
6:15
PM ET
A couple of thoughts on the New York Jets' decision to place the franchise tag on kicker Nick Folk:

Folk
1. Sticker shock: The tag amount for a kicker is $3.556 million, which sounds like a lot of money, but this move makes sense from the Jets' perspective. There are 10 kickers in the NFL that average at least $3 million per year, according to overthecap.com. (We're including the Carolina Panthers' Graham Gano, who signed a four-year deal Friday for a reported $12.4 million.) Folk, coming off his best season, probably is a top-10 kicker. When you have a guy like that, you do what you can to keep him. The Jets' style of play -- i.e. low-scoring, defensive games -- amplifies the importance of a clutch kicker.

2. Little-known rule: Technically, the Jets couldn't stop Folk from hitting the open market unless they exercised the tag. Here's why: Because they used the minimum-salary benefit last year with Folk, the Jets were allowed to offer only another minimum-salary deal before March 11, the start of free agency. Obviously, that would've been insulting, considering Folk's performance. The two sides could've circumvented the rule, agreeing to a long-term deal and signing it after free agency started, but they apparently didn't get close. The Jets didn't want to take a chance on losing him to another team, so, in essence, they shut down the loophole by tagging him.

3. Folk not pleased: Folk should be thrilled, right? After all, if he plays for the tag amount (the deadline for a long-term deal is July 15), he'll make more in 2014 than he did in his five previous seasons combined ($3.2 million). Ah, but there's another side to it: The premier kickers have at least $4 million in guarantees. The Chicago Bears' Robbie Gould, who signed a new deal at the end of the season, has a $4.9 million guarantee. That's where Folk gets shortchanged. It's safe to assume that Folk, who said after the season he deserved a long-term contract, isn't happy.

4. Austin's power: With Folk tagged, there's an increased sense of urgency to get right tackle Austin Howard locked up by March 11. They probably wouldn't have used it on Howard anyway (the projected amount for an offensive lineman is a steep $11 million), but now they can't use it as leverage in negotiations.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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