Franchise tags have to be given out by 4 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. CT today.
Are there other possibilities in the AFC South?
It would take some incredible accounting work to clear $22 million to tag outside linebacker Mario Williams and that number would hang over the team. It’s one thing to buy time with it, but what if he signed it and you’re stuck with a number for him that accounts for 17 or 18 percent of your cap? Do you cut people and limit what you can do going forward by taking on that number? Williams can be a tremendous player, but those two 2s look like a pair of handcuffs to me.
Center Chris Myers is a guy they really can’t afford to lose. But a tag number of $9.5 million factors in left tackle contracts as there is one tag number for all offensive linemen. I think they should put it on him if they can, hopefully as a stopgap to buy time to negotiate something long term. I don’t know their cap specifics right now, but believe it would be awfully difficult to make this work.
Mathis is over 30, so a one-year measure would make sense though he wouldn’t be happy about it. Once he came to terms with it, however, I would think a new defensive staff could sell him on some hybrid work when they shift to 3-4. How much do you factor in where he might land? If you set him free, you could face him twice a year as a member of the Jaguars or Titans.
Garcon is young and has one super-valuable commodity -- speed. But he’s inconsistent and unreliable and it would be hard to predict how he would react to a big-money guarantee.
Either will be a hot commodity on the open market. I think the reliable Reggie Wayne might actually be the best choice because of how he could help Andrew Luck. But between Mathis and Garcon, I’d go Mathis.
Ideal scenario: Tag the one you're furthest apart from in contract talks and get the other signed before March 13th. Unlikely, I know.