AFC South: franchise tags

It’s deadline day for franchise tags, and here’s where they stand or what we anticipate in the AFC South.

Houston Texans

If they don’t tag versatile safety Glover Quin, they run the risk of creating a hole in the starting defense that won’t be easy to fill. They want to hold the core of this team together and Quin’s been a good player. I would think they could work out a long-term deal eventually, and burning the tag on Quin won’t hurt them as they have no one else in need of the designation. It will ensure they have to make some sort of salary-cap moves by March 12 because they are $5.768 million under and the franchise tag at safety is $6.916 million.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have tagged punter Pat McAfee, who’s completely fine with the designation that’s worth $$2.977 million. “It's an honor to know that I'll be a member of the Indianapolis Colts for at least another year,” said McAfee in the team’s news release announcing the move. “I love the city, I love the team, and I love being a member of the community. I obviously hope to work out a long-term deal to stay here forever, but one more guaranteed year is awesome. Go Colts.”

Jacksonville Jaguars

New general manager David Caldwell told the Florida Times-Union during the combine that the Jaguars won’t use a franchise tag.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans have long been expected to tag tight end Jared Cook. The tight end number is $6.066 million. But, as first reported by The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt during the combine, Cook’s agent will make a play for the wide receiver tag of $10.537 million instead. The CBA says “that the tender will apply to the position in which the player participated in the most plays.” Just because the Cook was in the slot more than he was on the line (with snaps out wide as well) doesn’t make him a wide receiver -- it makes him a tight end who doesn't block real well. The matter could wind up in the hands of an arbitrator. If he or she decided Cook’s a receiver, the definition of tight ends should then change all around the league.
The franchise tag is a source of debate.

The league is using it, the NFL Players Association is disputing it.

The players have the better argument here. The language regarding the tag indicates it is for seasons covered by the agreement, and the agreement expires March 4.

But odds are when the two sides finally agree on a new CBA, the franchise tagging method will exist in some form, and it’s completely possible both sides would agree to let tags from now carry over into 2011.

Given that context, let’s look at the possibilities in the division.

The numbers are usually put out by the NFLPA, and since it isn’t on board with the idea that the tag exists going forward, we’ve not seen them.

But the reliable Bryan McIntyre has projected numbers here, and we will use them.


Owen Daniels was worth much more after 2008 than he is after 2010. Coming off the third major knee surgery of his football career, he took a while to find his game. Still, he’s a dangerous guy who can really add depth to the Texans' passing attack and they should be a better team with him than without him. Joel Dreessen can do some of what Daniels does, but the rest of the young tight ends haven’t shown they can emerge as a Daniels-like threat.

2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $7.285M

[+] EnlargeMarcedes Lewis
Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesMarcedes Lewis was a weapon in the Jaguars' running and passing game this past season.

If the Colts and Peyton Manning don’t have a deal worked out by the time the CBA expires, he will be tagged. It’s insurance that ties the team to the quarterback, but it’s not as if he’s going anywhere. They’ll find a long-term deal. If it’s not before the CBA expires, it’ll be soon after a new one’s agreed on. Is it risky to do it before? Well, if there is some sort of major change in salary cap mechanics or bonus proration, yes. But are those issues or elements of the expiring deal that have worked OK and will likely be maintained?

2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $17.095M. Adds McIntyre: “Because Manning's 2010 salary number ($19.266M) is higher than the average of the top five at the position, his franchise tag number will be $23.12 million, 120 percent of his 2010 salary.”


Marcedes 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.

2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $7.285M


We don’t know who the defensive coordinator or defensive line coach will be. We do know that under the old ones, Jason Babin was a pass-rushing force in 2010 working on a one-year, $1 million contract. Neither Babin nor Dave Ball are under contract moving forward, and while the Titans will get Derrick Morgan back from injury, can they afford to allow defensive end to become more of a need considering how many other needs they have?

2011 Projected Franchise Tender: $13.005M