Who might get Tagged, and what does it mean?

According to a CBS.com Rapid Report:

The Panthers are contemplating using the franchise tag before Feb. 24, but a source inside the organization said it might be someone other than RB DeAngelo Williams. In that case, it could be DE Charles Johnson, LB Thomas Davis or C Ryan Kalil.

Current Events and Info About Tags:

The High King Roger Goodell has announced that teams are free to utilize their franchise tag options during the February time-frame as per the CBA that hasn't yet expired.  Regardless of what happens in the negotiations, teams are allowed to utilize these rights to "lock up" their most valued Unrestricted Free Agent if they choose to do so. 

Now, I'm firmly entrenched in the camp that says there will be no lockout; whether it be due to a negotiated agreement or the declaration of an Impasse (for more info on this option, you can go here; http://www.catscratchreader.com/2011/1/23/1951546/sports-lawyer-says-there-will-not-be-a-lockout.)  Per Goodell yesterday, negotiations are heating up, with the March 3rd date still a deadline.  Goodell stated that the deadline will only be extended if an agreement is imminent.

So, 'Tis the season for Franchise Players, fa la la la la.  Apparently, there is some indication that the Panthers will use a Tag on someone, but there's no real indication of who it might be.  Obviously, we've got our share of Free Agents we need to take care of, but is tagging the solution?  The good thing about the tag is you can lock somebody up for a year; the bad part is that it's big money (all guaranteed) and is sometimes not received well by the player. 

There are 3 types of tags - Exclusive, Non-Exclusive, and Transition

For the sake of simplicity, Exclusive and Non-Exclusive both use essentially the same formula to determine the value: The higher of 120% of current salary or average of the top-5 salaries at the position played.  The differences between the two? 

Exclusive Tags mean the player can't negotiate with any other team, and the average salaries used to determine the value are based on current year as of April.

Non-Exclusive Tags allow teams to negotiate with the player, but the original team has the right to match any offer. If the original team doesn't match the offer, the player goes to the new team which has to give two 1st round picks to the original team (this can be negotiated).  The average salaries used to determine the value are based on the prior year as of April.

The rarely used Transition Tag gives the original team a right of first refusal if a player receives an offer from another team.  If the original team declines, they get no compensation.  The valuation is based on the average of the top-10 salaries at the position as of April of the prior year.

 Here's a quick look at the franchise/transition tag tender amounts at each position for the 2010 season, plus the highest-paid player at each spot:

  • CB: $9.6 million/$8.1 million (Champ Bailey, $13.2M)
  • DE: $12.4 million/$10.2 million (Julius Peppers, $16.7M)
  • DT: $7 million/$6.4 million (Tommie Harris, $8.6M)
  • LB: $9.7 million/$8.4 million (DeMarcus Ware, $11.4M)
  • OL: $10.7 million/$9.1 million (Joe Staley, $13.5M)
  • P/K: $2.8 million/$2.6 million (Shane Lechler, $3.1M)
  • QB: $16.4 million/$14.6 million (Peyton Manning, $21.2M)
  • RB: $8.2 million/$7.2 million (Reggie Bush, $10.6M)
  • S: $6.5 million/$6 million (Adrian Wilson, $7M)
  • TE: $5.9 million/$5.2 million (Dallas Clark, $6.8M)
  • WR: $9.5 million/$8.7 million (Larry Fitzgerald, $10.9M)

Okay, now let's talk some Panther football.  If you don't know all of the Panthers' unrestricted FAs, just look in the left margin for the list.  Suffice to say, Kalil, C. Johnson, D-Will, and TD are the top candidates for the Tag.  Marshall is already saying he likely won't be back (PP7 anybody?).  So, of these players, who would be coveted enough by other teams to warrant us using the tag?  How about a pro-bowl center?  An emerging force at DE?  A superb RB? Or, maybe a superfreak of an LB with knee issues? 

My opinion, for what it's worth, is that we'll be able to re-sign Kalil to a long-term deal; same goes for TD and D-Will.  Charles Johnson is the one player that many teams would love to steal, as he is about to become an elite DE in the league.  If I'm Mary Hurney, I'm going to put the Tag on CJ, with the understanding that we'll be offering him a long-term deal very soon. 

So, who would you put the tag on, if anybody?  


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