NFC West thoughts on 2012 franchise tags

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
4:57
PM ET
A few considerations after the NFL's 2012 deadline for naming franchise players passed Monday:
  • Two tagged: San Francisco's Dashon Goldson and Arizona's Calais Campbell were the only NFC West players to receive the tag. That was no surprise after the Seahawks re-signed running back Marshawn Lynch. Brandon Lloyd was the only Rams player worth considering for the tag. The Rams badly need receivers. There was some uncertainty over how well Lloyd might produce outside Josh McDaniels' offense.
  • No tag for Bryant: A four-year deal with Lynch gave Seattle other options for the tag. The team decided to pass. This was understandable. Seattle values Red Bryant on the field and in the locker room. He's a great fit. But using the franchise tag on him would have required the team to pay about twice the annual rate defensive tackle Brandon Mebane received a year ago. Mebane got $5 million per season. Bryant, as a defensive end, would have commanded an estimated $10.6 million for one year at the franchise price. We'll now find out how much Bryant values the fit he has enjoyed in Seattle.
  • Alex Smith update: The San Francisco 49ers still have a week to strike a long-term deal with their quarterback. The franchise tag would have set Smith's annual value at an estimated $14.4 million, perhaps around $5 million more than Smith might receive annually on a multi-year deal. There should be enough good faith between Smith and coach Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers to reach a resolution without much worry. Smith is better off with the 49ers than elsewhere, in my view, and he has to know this.
  • Matt Flynn's status: The Packers decided to let their backup quarterback head toward free agency unrestricted by the tag. I had a hard time picturing by-the-book Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson essentially gaming the system by tagging Flynn. Thompson might have realized the trade market for Flynn could be soft if the $14.4 million value set the baseline for any contract another team might sign with the quarterback. No tag means more teams figure to have interest. Would Seattle have interest? Still haven't heard anything substantive along those lines. The assumption here is that Miami will pay a higher price.
  • Mario Williams free: The deadline passed without Houston using the tag for outside linebacker Mario Williams. The Seahawks need a pass-rusher. Williams would probably fit best in the "Leo" role Chris Clemons currently fills. Seattle badly wants to upgrade its pass rush, but I haven't sensed the Seahawks will go after Williams at any price. The Texans knew him best and decided against making every effort to keep him.
  • Receiver market: Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston were two of the bigger-name receivers to escape the tag. Dwayne Bowe isn't going anywhere after Kansas City franchised him. Pierre Garcon, Robert Meachem and Mario Manningham are three middle-tier wideouts with a shot at free agency. Most NFC West teams could use help at the position. Seattle and St. Louis had some interest in Jackson when he was a franchise player previously. The Rams have changed leadership since then. The receiver pool could dry up further if players get deals done before free agency opens March 13. Teams interested in Pittsburgh restricted free agent Mike Wallace would have to part with a 2012 first-round pick if the Steelers did not match an offer. I'm skeptical the 49ers would go that route.
  • Corners of note: The 49ers' Carlos Rogers remains without a deal and could hit the market. Tennessee has no plans to bring back Cortland Finnegan, who has ties to Rams coach Jeff Fisher. Those will be two corners to watch.

The chart shows which players received franchise tags Monday. The NFL has yet to announce the associated values. Franchise players rarely change teams. Drew Brees, as a non-exclusive franchise player, cannot negotiate with other teams. Most franchise players are free to negotiate, but their current teams would receive two first-round draft choices in return if they decided against matching a formal offer.

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