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Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Morning Stripes: On tags and the combine

By Coley Harvey

Monday kicked off a busy two weeks in the NFL as the period for naming franchise and transition tag players began.

It also marked the unofficial start to the combine, with reporters and bloggers starting to write about what to expect from the 32 teams when players arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

We wrote about both events on ESPN.com's Bengals blog Monday, expanding on the likelihood Cincinnati uses a franchise tag this year, and a look at which types of running back prospects the Bengals may want to explore at the combine later this week. When it comes to the franchise tag, there isn't a very strong chance the Bengals use it this year after using it the last two seasons. Kicker Mike Nugent returned for a two-year deal after his tagging in 2012, but will defensive end Michael Johnson be back this fall after his own tagging in 2013? It's doubtful.

With respect to the types of running backs the Bengals might explore when the combine begins, think about physical runners. Those who can catch passes out of the backfield won't hurt, either. But as mentioned in the link above, on the totem pole of importance in this mostly depth-setting draft, the running back position ranks rather low. There are other needs in the defensive secondary and on the lines that could take precedent. Then there is the whole quarterback question: Should the Bengals take one to add to the depth behind Andy Dalton should he disappoint at some point during this, his final contract year?

Franchise tags and the combine have been written about by others so far this week, as well. This Tuesday's Morning Stripes are all about franchise tags and the combine: