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Monday, March 5, 2012
Franchise tag could be coming for Barth

By Pat Yasinskas

We already know New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes have been hit with the franchise tag. By the end of the day Monday, there could be a third NFC South franchise player.

That’s Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth.

Roy Cummings writes the Bucs are prepared to use the tag on Barth if a long-term contract can’t be worked out by this afternoon. I’m pretty sure the Bucs will continue their efforts at a long-term deal because Barth is a good, young kicker that they’d like to keep around for years.

But this is not a situation where it’s absolutely essential the Bucs get a deal done with Barth. Placing the franchise tag on him would be a lot easier than it is for the Saints and Falcons, whose commitment to Brees and Grimes stretches into eight figures.

As a kicker, the cost of putting the tag on Barth would be $2.6 million. The Bucs have more cap room than most teams and it would be easy to put the tag on Barth. In the short term, that will assure he stays in Tampa Bay. But the Bucs, who like to talk about building through the draft and keeping their core together, would be wise to continue to try to get a long-term deal with Barth. They don’t have a lot of core players, but their dependable kicker is definitely one of them.