As Steve posted earlier, tomorrow is the first day to use the franchise tag. With everything still up in the air–with just about everyone expecting the CBA to expire causing the NFL to enter an uncapped year and convert the majority of young free agents to RFAs–I wouldn’t be shocked to see a few teams slow play the tagging ritual a bit, just in case something breaks. You don’t want to slap your tag on a decent UFA assuming that your best player is going to be a restricted free agent, jusssst in case a deal is reached.
That said, I don’t expect this to be a big issue for the Seahawks. There are few important free agents who won’t likely convert to RFA — Darryl Tapp, Rob Sims, Chris Spencer, all will. In reality, the only potential unrestricted free agent departures are Justin Griffith (seeya), Nate Burleson (please stay?), Damion McIntosh, Kevin Houser, Cory Redding and Olindo Mare. Of those, only two play crucial roles: Nate Burleson and Olindo Mare. The franchise tag for Burleson would be way, way, wayyy more than he’s worth. You would be paying a #2 receiver top-5 money. Nahgunnadewit. (Last year’s WR hit was a hair under $10MM.)
That leaves Olindo Mare, a move that makes a load of sense. Mare is 37 years old, which means he could have a few more years in him, but he might be done after one or two. You give him a one year contract of less than $2.5 million, and you lock in one of the top kickers in the league for a year with exclusive rights to negotiate a longer contract. It’s also pretty low-risk and keeps a strength a strength.
Also, quick question: two years ago, Tim Ruskell debated between two kickers: Brandon Coutu and Garrett Hartley. On he drafted, one went undrafted. I’m pretty sure one is out of the league and one has hit 92% of his regular season FGs and nailed three 40-yard plus kicks in the Super Bowl, but I can’t recall which was which? Anybody? Anybody? (To all dormant Ruskell haters, you’re welcome.)