The 4pm ET March 4th deadline for NFL teams to apply exclusive franchise player, transition, or non-exclusive franchise player tags (aka, "tagging") has come and gone. Even down to the absolute zero hour, teams like the Kansas City Chiefs kept everyone guessing as to which free agents they were going to tag and which ones they seem content to hit the open market.
For 2013, no team designated a player as an exclusive franchise player or as a transition player. However, eight teams did tag players with the non-exclusive tag. That's down from the 21 teams that used the tag last season.
The non-exclusive tag means that, when the new league year begins, that player can still go out and negotiate a contract with another team. However, if that other teams wants to said the player, then they must give the original teams draft pick compensation in the form of two first round picks.
Yep, that's right. Two.
Basically, unless the player is named Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, or Andrew Luck, no team is going to give up two No. 1s for a free agent.
If the non-exclusive franchise player does not reach a better deal with his original team, he will receive a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salary makers at his position. Oh, and the contract is guaranteed. Certainly, that's nothing to sneeze at, but players and their union are always looking for more guaranteed money and more years, as well they should. It's not like the NFL's owners are hurting for cash these days.
We already know the Colts slapped the tag on punter Pat McAfee. Here are the other players who got the non-exclusive tag:
Buffalo- Jairus Byrd, S
Chicago- Henry Melton, DT
Cincinnati- Michael Johnson, DE
Dallas- Anthony Spencer, LB
Denver- Ryan Clady, OT
Kansas City- Branden Albert, OT
Miami- Randy Starks, DT
Spencer was considered a potential free agent target for the Colts if he had not been tagged. Since he now has, you can scratch him off your boards, folks.
The players NOT tagged, and who seem likely to become UFAs on March 12th are, just to name a few:
Jake Long, OT
Paul Kruger, OLB
Ed Reed, SS
Dashon Goldson, SS
Wes Welker, WR
Danny Amendola, ER
Greg Jennings, WR
An impressive crop, to say the least.
Bottom line: There will still be some very good free agents out there for the Colts to spend their roughly $43 million dollars in cap room on.
Free Agent Film Study: Paul Kruger