The use of the franchise tag on players by NFL teams is one of the things the NFL Players Association apparently objects to. NFL teams, however, are still claiming the right to 'tag' players, and the deadline to do so expires at the end of this week.
Is there a player the Giants should use the franchise tag on for the 2011 season? Before you answer that, consider the likely price tag per position. The NFL Monday released the likely costs per position, though these apparently have to be upheld in the collective bargaining agreement. The numbers are arrived at by looking at the top five salaries for players at each position. Here is the list as it stands now:
Quarterbacks: $16 million ($16.4 million in 2010)
Running backs: $9.5 million ($8.15 million in 2010)
Wide receivers: $11.3 million ($9.5 million in 2010)
Tight ends: $7.3 million ($5.9 million in 2010)
Offensive linemen: $10.1 million ($10.7 million in 2010)
Defensive ends: $12.9 million ($12.4 million in 2010)
Defensive tackles: $12.5 million ($7 million in 2010)
Linebackers: $10 million ($9.7 million in 2010)
Cornerbacks: $14 million ($9.6 million in 2010)
Safeties: $8.8 million ($6.5 million in 2010)
Kickers: $3.1 million ($2.8 million in 2010)
The two players you might consider most likely to be franchised by the Giants would be defensive tackle Barry Cofield and running back Ahmad Bradshaw.
Look at that price tag for franchised defensive tackles? It would cost the Giants $12.5 million to franchise Cofield, who made $1.759 million in 2010. That is not going to happen, since that number is significantly higher than what the Giants would probably be willing to pay Cofield.
That leaves Bradshaw. He made $550,000 in 2010 and is likely in line for a pretty nice pay day from someone this offseason. Should the Giants franchise him at $9.5 million for one season? AB might want to test his long-term value on the open market, but I don't think he would be terribly upset with a $9 million raise for one year.
Is Bradshaw worth that kind of money? Or, should the Giants just let him test the market and see if they can bring him back without paying him top five running back money? Keep in mind that, according to the Star-Ledger's Mike Garafolo, the Giants have only used the franchise tag twice -- on offensive lineman Jumbo Elliott in 1993 and on Brandon Jacobs in 2009.
I would like to see the Giants keep Bradshaw, but not at a $9.5 million price tag. I say skip using the tag and see what happens once the collective bargaining agreement is in place.