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Will the Colts Use the Franchise Tag this Year?


Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Today, February 16, is the first day that NFL teams are able to place the franchise tag on a player, and they have from now until March 2 to do so.  Essentially, the franchise tag is something that locks up a free agent to be for at least one year for a team.

The start of the franchise tag window brings up the question of whether the Colts will use the tag this year or not.  Last year they didn't tag anybody, but in 2013 punter Pat McAfee played under the franchise tag - which was a smart move by the Colts, albeit a rare one for an NFL team to use the tag on a punter.  In 2012 they used the tag on Robert Mathis, though the two sides quickly agreed to a long-term deal.  And in 2011, the Colts franchised quarterback Peyton Manning while they worked out a long-term deal that, as it turns out, Manning would never play a game under.  As you can tell with just that brief, recent history of the Colts' franchise tag, the designation is used for players who are crucial to the franchise (thus the name "franchise tag").  Is there any free agent to be that is crucial to the Colts?  Let's take a look.

Here's a list of the Colts' unrestricted free agents:

UFA (Unrestricted Free Agents)No restrictions, the player is a free agent and is free to sign with any team

  • Reggie Wayne, WR
  • Cory Redding, DE
  • Hakeem Nicks, WR
  • Matt Hasselbeck, QB
  • Darius Butler, CB
  • Fili Moala,DE
  • Joe Reitz, OL
  • Josh Gordy, CB
  • Sergio Brown, S
  • Andy Studebaker, LB
  • Colt Anderson, S
  • Mike Adams, S
  • Ahmad Bradshaw, RB

Reggie Wayne is the most notable name and for a long time during his career he would have been worth the franchise tag, but he's not anymore.  If he decides to come back for another season and not retire, he'll be a Colt and he'll be back on a minimal deal.  Another notable name is Cory Redding, but he too, if he decides to return, would be on a lower deal than the tag.  And Ahmad Bradshaw is a fantastic running back when healthy - but unfortunately, he's not healthy often enough to warrant consideration.

Of the list, probably either cornerback Darius Butler or safety Mike Adams are the most important players to the Colts' franchise, but are either of them worth the franchise tag?  According to, the projected franchise tag number for cornerbacks is $13.05 million and the projected franchise tag number for safeties is $9.60 million.  When looking at those numbers, it's very clear that neither Butler or Adams are worth that much, despite both being players the Colts should bring back.

So, to answer the question of whether the Colts will use their franchise tag this season, the answer is no.  But next year?  With Anthony Castonzo, T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and some guy named Andrew Luck scheduled to become free agents, the Colts will likely have some options for the franchise tag.  This year, however, they don't have such options and they won't be using the tag in 2015.