5 Takeaways From The Franchise Tag Deadline

Dez BryantThe deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag to upcoming free agents has come and gone. Some teams are happy. Some are not. Here are 5 things we learned at the deadline:

1. The Lions chose the long-term over the short-term.

The Lions faced a tough dilemma with Ndamukong Suh. However, in deciding not to use the tag on Suh, the Lions exercised a great deal of fiscal responsibility. Using $27 million of next year’s salary cap on a defensive tackle would have been a hard pill for the Lions to swallow. And, while watching their prized player walk out the door might also be tough, it was a wise move not to sacrifice the short-term for the long-term health of the franchise.

2. Randall Cobb just made a lot of money.

No, the Packers didn’t use the franchise tag on Cobb. However, because the Broncos and Cowboys used theirs on Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant respectively, Cobb now moves to the head of the class of free agent wide receivers. Reports are that Cobb was initially seeking a deal worth $9 million per season, but now is looking for something in the $12 million range. That amount coincidentally matches the franchise tag amount for wide receivers in 2015. The Colts are likely to be Cobb’s biggest suitor on the market. But will the break the bank for a guy who already resembles T.Y. Hilton?

3. Did the Patriots franchise the wrong guy?

The biggest surprise in an unsurprising afternoon was New England’s decision to use the tag on Stephen Gostkowski over safety Devin McCourty. It’s a surprise because the tag amount for safeties is only (only?) $9.6 million — second lowest of any position. McCourty will see a lot of action on the market.  Could he be paired up with his brother in Tennessee where the Titans have a ton of cap room? Possibly. But this may be a decision that the Super Bowl Champions regret in a few weeks.

4. Eagles will try to fly high without Maclin.

The Eagles must believe in Jordan Matthews. That’s the message as Chip Kelly elected not to use the tag on Jeremy Maclin Monday afternoon. Maclin returned from injury in 2014 and chose to play under a one-year with ambitions of cashing in for 2015. He’ll likely do exactly that after posting over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. The evident departure of Maclin means that Chip Kelly thinks his second year wide receiver can step up to be the #1 receiver on the team.

5. Money is everywhere.

In addition to the franchise tag deadline, the league confirmed on Monday that the 2015 salary cap will be $143 million. That’s even higher than the estimates and is a $10 million increase over last season’s cap. What does it all mean? Players will be cashing in more than ever. Lots of teams have significant cap room and will loosen their belts beginning next week trying to make a splash. Get ready for some fun.

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