As the clock ticks toward Monday’s franchise tag deadline (3 p.m. CT), the free agent market continues to shrink. Houston running back Arian Foster, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch and Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson, all candidates to have been franchised, have signed new deals with their teams.
Packers fans, of course, are awaiting the team’s decision on backup quarterback Matt Flynn and Pro-Bowl center Scott Wells. The Packers are not expected to use the franchise tag on either player.
So, what teams have used the franchise tag to retain the rights to players? Here’s a summary as the league heads toward the deadline:
Bears—They hit running back Matt Forte (pictured) with the franchise tag, which means he would earn $7.7 million in 2012. The Bears want to continue to negotiate a long-term deal with Forte.
Lions—Defensive end Cliff Avril was franchised.
Vikings—No apparent franchise candidate.
Cowboys—Linebacker Anthony Spencer said he was expecting to be franchised on Monday.
Eagles—Wide receiver DeSean Jackson wears the franchise tag.
Giants—Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham is due to become an unrestricted free agent, but the Giants have given no indication they would use the franchise tag on Manningham.
Redskins—Tight end Fred Davis has been tagged, potentially exposing safety Laron Landry to free agency.
Bucs—Expected to franchise kicker Connor Barth.
Falcons—Franchised cornerback Brent Grimes.
Saints—Quarterback Drew Brees has been tendered at the exclusive rights level of the franchise tag, which would cost the Saints considerably more money should an elite quarterback sign a new, richer deal between now and the draft. Wide receiver Marques Colston and guard Carl Nicks will potentially become UFA’s on March 13.
Cardinals—Defensive end Calais Campbell was tagged.
49ers—Safety Dashon Golston was tagged.
Rams—Not expected to use the tag on wide receiver Brandon Lloyd; no other apparent candidates.
Seahawks—With Lynch signed to a new deal, the Seahawks aren’t expected to use the franchise tag.
Bills—With Johnson re-signed, Bills have no apparent franchise candidates.
Dolphins—No apparent candidates.
Jets—No apparent candidates.
Patriots—Wide receiver Wes Welker expected to be franchised.
Bengals—Defensive tackle Pat Sims is a candidate.
Browns—The long-term deal linebacker D’Qwell Jackson signed freed the franchise tag to be used on kicker Phil Dawson.
Ravens—Running back Ray Rice wears the tag.
Steelers—Not expected to use the franchise tag on RFA wide receiver Mike Wallace, and there are no other apparent candidates. The Steelers have tendered Wallace at the first-round level, which means a team signing Wallace would owe the Steelers a first-round pick, should the Steelers decline to match the offer.
Colts—Defensive end Robert Mathis and wide receiver Pierre Garcon are the candidates. At least one of those players and wide receiver Reggie Wayne are likely to become free agents.
Jaguars—Kicker Josh Scobee has been franchised.
Titans—Safety Michael Griffin is expected to be franchised, which means cornerback Cortland Finnegan will likely hit the open market.
Texans—With Foster signed, will the Texans use the franchise tag on defensive end Mario Williams? The expected answer is no, as Williams would be a prohibitively expensive cap hit. Williams is likely to enter free agency as its most coveted prize.
Broncos—Kicker Matt Prater is expected to be franchised.
Chargers—A big decision on Vincent Jackson awaits. If the Chargers don’t franchise him, Jackson will enter free agency as its top wide receiver.
Chiefs—Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is the franchise candidate.
Raiders—Safety Tyvon Branch has been franchised, meaning running back Michael Bush will likely go elsewhere in free agency.
For a Point, Counterpoint segment on the pros and cons of using the franchise tag, click here.