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Colts likely won’t use the franchise tag this year

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The window for teams to designate franchise or transition tags opens today. It will run through March 1, and shortly after that free agency will begin.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, and Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short are among those players expected to get the franchise tag.

But what about the Colts? Do they have any candidates for the franchise tag? The short answer: not really.

There really aren’t any blockbuster free agents that the Colts need to re-sign this offseason, since they got Andrew Luck locked up last year. But who else? There’s not a ton of guys the Colts should be hurrying to re-sign. Here’s the list of Colts who will become free agents: Mike Adams, Darius Butler, Chris Carter, Trent Cole, Jack Doyle, Hugh Thornton, Jordan Todman, Robert Turbin, and Erik Walden.

Out of that group, I think it’s reasonable to single out Mike Adams, Darius Butler, Jack Doyle, Robert Turbin, and Erik Walden as the guys the Colts should consider re-signing, while noting that it would be worth bringing Jordan Todman back for special teams purposes. But are any of them worth the franchise tag? Well, here’s a look at what the franchise tag is expected to be at those positions this year:

RB: $12.20 million

TE: $9.84 million

LB: $14.64 million

CB: $14.31 million

S: $10.97 million

Comparing those figures with the list of free agents the Colts should possibly re-sign, it’s clear that the franchise tag numbers are far higher than what those players will likely get. Robert Turbin absolutely isn’t getting $12.2M this year as a backup and paying Jordan Todman that for special teams purposes is a laughable proposition; while paying Mike Adams $10.97M, Darius Butler $14.31M/$10.97M (depending on what position he’ll play), or Erik Walden $14.64 would not be the best use of the Colts’ money, by any means. It’s likely that all three would be able to be signed to contracts significantly smaller than those figures.

That leaves only Jack Doyle, and not only should he be the Colts’ top priority to re-sign, but it’s also the most reasonable franchise tag of them all. To be clear: the Colts could sign Doyle to a long-term contract that would save them a couple of million this year (versus the franchise tag), so franchising him still isn’t the smart move. But it’s at least the most reasonable option the Colts have (by far). Still, though, it’s not likely. If the Colts want to keep Doyle around, they could do so in a cheaper manner that also keeps him around for multiple years, not just one.

So we go back to what we mentioned early on in the article: it’s incredibly unlikely that the Colts will use the franchise tag this offseason. But just because they’re not expected to use the franchise tag doesn’t mean they won’t have interest in bringing back some of the players mentioned, and they’ll have the cap space (a projected $54+ million) to do it. It’d just be much more prudent to do so without using the franchise tag.