Franchise Tags, Free Agency And The Vikings

Posted by Mike Wobschall on March 5, 2012 – 7:37 am

Today is deadline day for teams to designate their franchise player. And while the Vikings are not expected to use the franchise tag to retain a free agent this year, deadline day for using the tag does have implications for the Purple.

The Vikings have holes to fill on the roster, and one of the ways to fill those holes is through free agency. Where the franchise tag comes in is that every player who is tagged by their team is one less player available in free agency. The Vikings may be looking for a shutdown cover CB or a field-stretching WR, and many of those types of players are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. But if their teams choose to retain them via the franchise tag, then the Vikings – and any other team wishing to pursue them – will have to move on to other options. Also, deadline day for the franchise tag can also serve as a leverage point for teams in their contract negotiations with potential free agents, so you could also see a string of re-signings announced between teams and top-tier free agents, which also decreases the depth of the free agent market.

While building through the draft is the right way to go, there’s also gold to be found in free agency. The Houston Texans signing CB Johnathan Joseph and the New Orleans Saints signing RB Darren Sproles last year are two examples of free agents making tremendous impacts on their new teams. There could well be players in this year’s free agency market who could make similar impacts for the Vikings in 2012 and beyond, if they aren’t franchised. Those players include, but are not limited to: WR Dwayne Bowe, CB Cortland Finnegan, WR Vincent Jackson,WR Stevie Johnson, WR Brando Lloyd, DT Paul Soliai and LB Kamerion Wimbley.

Long story longer, even though free agency doesn’t start for 8 more days, today is a big day in setting the market. Below is a list of players who’ve already been franchised by their teams. We’ll update the list as the day goes on, so be sure to keep checking back here for updates.

DE Calais Campbell – Arizona Cardinals
CB Brent Grimes – Atlanta Falcons
RB Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
RB Matt Forte – Chicago Bears
K Mike Nugent – Cincinnati Bengals
K Phil Dawson – Cleveland Browns
LB Anthony Spencer – Dallas Cowboys
K Matt Prater – Denver Broncos
DE Cliff Avril – Detroit Lions
DE Robert Mathis – Indianapolis Colts
K Josh Scobee – Jacksonville Jaguars
WR Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City Chiefs
WR Wes Welker – New England Patriots
QB Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints
P Steve Weatherford – NY Giants
S Tyvon Branch – Oakland Raiders
WR DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles
S Dashon Goldson – San Francisco 49ers
K Connor Barth – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
S Michael Griffin – Tennessee Titans
TE Fred Davis – Washington Redskins

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