Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
The Bucs were hoping to reach a long-term agreement with Bryant before Thursday. But that wasn't happening so the team went ahead and used its other option. The tag will come with a cost of nearly $9 million, but that might only be temporary. The Bucs are expected to continue to work to sign Bryant to a long-term deal and the franchise tag buys them more time.
Even with Bryant locked up, the Bucs still are likely to make a play for a high-profile wide receiver once free agency starts. It's unclear if the Bucs plan to keep Joey Galloway, who had a disappointing 2008 season, and new coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski has made it clear he wants the downfield passing game to be a big part of the offense.