The NFL’s game of tag

Posted by Darren Urban on February 23, 2010 – 10:35 am

By Thursday, teams must decide whether or not to use their franchise and/or transition tag on scheduled free agents. The Panthers aren’t going to tag defensive end Julius Peppers and the Cards aren’t (and never were) going to tag linebacker Karlos Dansby. In both cases, that’s because their salaries had grown so much that to use the franchise tag (or transition tag, which simply gives a team the right to match any contract offer) would be guaranteeing obscene amounts of money for a single season.

(The Cardinals still haven’t ruled out using a tag — a transition tag, probably — on one of their other scheduled unrestricted free agents, but it’s unlikely at this point. And no, if Antrel Rolle is released, the Cards can’t turn around and use a tag on him.)

The Patriots did tag nose tackle Vince Wilfork yesterday and the Steelers are apparently going to tag nose tackle Casey Hampton (which just shows how important nose tackles are, especially for 3-4 teams; the Cards would have probably had interest in chasing both those guys had they been available).

Dansby was mostly good about dealing with the tag, which he has had the last two seasons. He should, especially now, because it’s provided him $18 million in just two years and now he’s in line for a huge long-term payday. But most players — Hampton and Wilfork included — aren’t fans of the tag, fearing they won’t get the long-term deal (and big guaranteed money) while risking another season of injury. Darnell Dockett certainly made his thoughts known yesterday, something to keep in mind since Dockett would be a franchise candidate in 2012 if the Cards and he don’t come to an extension agreement by then.

“I think the franchise TAG is a way of saying we too cheap to pay u ur worth even though u worked hard to get a big contract,” Dockett tweeted. “Its BS.”

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43 Responses to “The NFL’s game of tag”

  1. By Pay Dockett! on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    uhhhhhh just pay dockett now, d linemen are the most valuable players on the other side of the ball if they’re good… and dockett is good!

  2. By AndyStandsUp on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    If the Cards WERE to use a tag on a player, would it be Rackers?

  3. By darrenurban on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    Good question. I would guess so. They don’t have a long list of potentials.

  4. By kerouac9 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    If they want, the Cards can place the Transition tag on me. I could honk chip-shot field goals as time expires as well as Rackers does.

  5. By Jesus on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I agree Pay Dockett!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. By Eric on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Don’t pay Dockett, TAG HIM!

    How is paying a linebacker who never made the Pro Bowl more than your HOF QB, Adrian Wilson, Dockett himself, Q, and practically every other player on the roster except Fitz for the past two seasons being “TOO CHEAP”?

  7. By eurocard on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    It is a business, if the player is one who has proven that he plays best under a longer contract, make that move, if the player plays better under the cosh as he has to prove himself then tag him. If the player is injury prone tag him, if the player plays through hell and high water give hiim a contract. Its a business, the cba is negotiated by both sides so expect it to be used to the greates advantage that either side can use it for.

  8. By Mark on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I think along with Hampton, Aubrayo Franklin (SF) will probably be tagged before Thursday. That leaves Pickett and Kennedy as two possible starting quality NT that will hit FA. But will either be affordable? I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cards look early (1-4th rounds) in the draft for a NT.

  9. By Paul on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I would like to see Nine Oh locked up in a long term deal if the team could afford it.

  10. By ALarson on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s see the CARDS have used high draft picks on NT before and we have Gabe Watson and Alan Branch to show for it! Mebbe we just need to get a DT whose NOT FROM MICHIGAN!

    Darren any thoughts on if the CARDS would be interested in Aaron Kampman? He is UNRESTRICTED…. or are the CARDS not going to go after any big names in FA this year?

  11. By darrenurban on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    ALarson —

    The thing with Kampman is that he didn’t quite fit in a 3-4 in Green Bay, so I don’t know if he helps here. Plus he’s coming off a knee injury.

  12. By Matt on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, do you really see the Cards resigning Rackers? i dont

  13. By darrenurban on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Matt —

    I think it is still a possibility.

  14. By az1965 on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    I’m sorry but Dockett is so dumb… being tagged guarantees you get top five pay for a season. So, where is the cheapness there???

  15. By Alberto on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Darren, Could the Cards tag Dansby and then trade him? Like the Patriots did with Matt Cassell last year.At least they got a draft pick in return

  16. By darrenurban on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Alberto —

    They could, but once they tag Dansby, he will sign it and then he is guaranteed $16 million. If they can’t trade him, they are stuck. And they would have no leverage.

  17. By johnnybluenose on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    no way they tag dockett. and, if they did, why would dockett complain? that’s a lot of money for 16 games of football. i’d want him playing both ways plus kicking for that kind of money.

  18. By Big Red on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    If Dockett is not given a new contract I must start thinking about putting my season tickets on the trading block. With Warner,Berry, Dansby, Rolle and Boldin all gone, it looks like the same old owners.

  19. By charlie on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    we did very well the last two years, if the owners le the good guys go, BOLDIN, DOCKETT, DANDSBY AND ROLLE) say goodbye 2 a lot of fans, b cause the team will go down hill from there

  20. By dylan on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    well the owners could not stop warner leaving and yeah if they let dockett go its just dumb dumb dumb on their part really we need to keep rolle and dockett dansby isn that great of a lb we need better maybe the 2 rookies we have will be great lb’s idk

  21. By Steve on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Everyone complaing about players leaving needs to go look at the site and see the amount of great players being released or allowed to go to free agency.

    This is the NFL of today.

    Warner and Berry retired, how is the an ownership issue?

    Dansby is due to make too much money so almost any team would let him go. The Skins and the Cowboys are probably the only team with owners willing to dish out the crazy money he will ask. And btw, his former agent and the Cards had an extension done but Dansby fired his agent so he could get the monster payday.

    Boldin is still around and he is asking for money similiar to Fitz but he is getting older and has been very injury prone. I would think less if Graves gave him the big deal. I would love to see them get a 2nd rounder for him this year.

    Dockett is under contract and this was a new contract as the Cards redid his deal since he out played his rookie deal. Graves did a GREAT job getting a great player locked up early.

    Now to Rolle, I belive he is due $4m in a signing bonus and $8.4m in salary. I would love to see him resigned but other ProBowl safties are being let go who would of been asking for less.

    Don’t forget what this team still has. Fitz and Wells are a great foundation on offense. DRC, Cambell, Dockett and Wilson are some dominate players on D.

    I’m excited for the Cards next season.

  22. By dan on Feb 23, 2010 | Reply

    Pay the D-linemen and O-linemen the big bucks, thats where the games are won and lost…..and a stud QB. WR’s, DBs are overpaid and are more times that not just benefits of a great D-line or O-line plus a stud QB. I would put my money and the LINES, pay Dockett and lets get some guys who can get to the QB.

  23. By Eazy E on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Man, that sucks. I would love for wilfork or hampton to be in the middle of our 3-4 with dockett and calais. I feel dockett on the franchise tag because you have NO security, because what if dockett got the franchise tag when he was about to hit the market and GOD forbid it, gets injured that year, his value goes way down and no long-term security, that is bs. Hey darren, i agree with you about kampman, he struggled in that 3-4 up in green bay, but when it comes to peppers, he is a athletic freak, and i know its a ‘risk’ because ‘technically’ he hasn’t played in a 3-4, but carolina had him drop in coverage quite a bit and of course he can pass rush and play the run at an elite level, so why not take the risk if any?

  24. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Eazy —

    His reputation is of a player who may or may not play hard every game. Would you make him your highest paid player, which is what it would take to get Peppers?

  25. By Mackie on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Big Red –

    How can you lump 5 players into the same basket? The Cardinals weren’t cheap with Warner, he retired.. leaving 11.5 million dollars on the table.. Berry retired… These guys aren’t going to another team, they are done playing the game.

    As far as Dansby goes, I’d like the Cards to have gotten a deal done, but quite apparently they don’t see him worth the Elite money he is going to get. Fitzgerald got paid, Warner got paid, as did Adrian Wilson. These 3 were some of the top paid in their positions.. that’s not being cheap.

    And with dealing with Rolle, what would your solution be? His huge rookie contract is coming to a close, as with a lot of contracts it’s heavily loaded on the backside. Not to mention he got paid CB money… *huge* difference between CB and FS money.

    Smart teams identify who they will break the bank for. This defense has not been the dominant defense where starters deserve to break the bank. The past few years it seemed like a lot of the pieces have been there.. yet they under achieve. I wouldn’t mind seeing some fresh blood. Although I wish #58 was still there to help lead them…

  26. By GregP on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Darren i was thinking if we are going to trade Boldin which god forbid i hope we don’t. But if we are gunna trade him. How about to the Chargers for there disgruntled cornerback Antonio Cromartie and Vicent Jackson. I thinking that woudl be a perfect trade for both sides. What do you think?

  27. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    GregP —

    I think you are overvaluing Boldin if you think he would fetch both Cromartie and Jackson.

  28. By Aaron on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Tagging Dockett twice could come off cheap, but I think it would be a smart move by the FO. Tagging a D player insures that they will pay highly motivated throughout the season because the #1 motivation for most the NFL players is MONEY. IMO we saw it with our own Dansby and we saw it with Albert Haynesworth.

    In response to another comment: II want to know how we spent high draft picks on the NT position. Branch was one player and it was a 2nd round pick. Watson was a 4th, I wouldn’t consider that a high draft pick. We need some good investment here though since Robinson was our starter at the NT position. I like him as a player, but I think we need a solid upgrade.

  29. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Aaron (And to all the others talking about Dockett getting the tag) —

    Just to be clear, I don’t think Dockett will ever need the tag. I think he will get an extension before that happens.

  30. By Daniel Enfield on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    I think we should go after Shaun rogers from the browns, he is a pretty good nose tackle and wouldnt demand much in a trade or signing if he is cut. What do you think?

  31. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Daniel —

    If he were to be cut the Cards may look at him but otherwise, they aren’t going to make a trade. Draft picks are too valuable.

  32. By RED BIRD 66 on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    I think the Cards should let Rolle go as he is not worth 12m a year and seeing that his agent and 90 agent is DR. GREED (DREW R) I don’t ever see a long term deal getting done with either of these guys. It seems as this is going to be a we will see what happens year anyway with #7 at QB. Not saying #7 can’t get it done but no one knows if he can for sure. I hope the best for #7 but he has large shoes to fill. San diego is in need of a running back now so what about a Hightower for Cromartie trade. No matter what we have to strengthen our D or we are going to have to score 35 pts to win a game. I’m sure #81 could be traded for quality def players as well.

  33. By Andrew on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply


    Do you think the Cardinals will look into Dunta Robinson? (announced he won’t be tagged) With the amount Dansby is going to get, it would seem that it would allow us the freedom to get pretty much anyone. I assume a nose tackle and LB are tops on the FA lookout but just wondering…

  34. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Andrew —

    Robinson is going to want a giant contract.

  35. By C on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    ALarson you have to be kidding
    Gabe Watson and Alan Branch are good players. I was a little worried about Alan Branch until last year when he stepped up big time.

    And why are people saying the owners let warner retire, not everyone is a brett favre when they retire they mean it. Personally i would rather warner retire i dont like seeing him get hit like he did in new orleans. if your upset that he retired then your just selfish, he actually has a life outside of football and im glad he can actually live it.

  36. By Ottis Anderson Fan on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Real nice article about the Cards and their contract situation(s) by Jim Trotter today (2/24) at

    “Offseason moves show Arizona has learned from past mistakes”

    Can you imagine the Card’s getting this kind of offseason press five years ago?

  37. By Mike"Pay Q" on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Steve, Please provide a link to where Q said he wants “Fitz money”. You won’t because he NEVER has. Yes he wants a new deal that Rod Graves promised him last year. I happen to think Q is worth more than Deon Branch, Laverneous Coles etc. both make more than Q.

  38. By christian on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    darren thats bull man, we need to pay these players and stop being so cheap we cant jus sign rookies log term and letem go when theyve been contributing tot he team thats bull man do ur jobs right man. what the FF

  39. By darrenurban on Feb 24, 2010 | Reply

    Christian —

    It’s so much more complicated than that and you know that. Jim Trotter is one guy who disagrees with you, by the way.

  40. By Andrew on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

    Everyone needs to read the article that darren posted a link to!!! Especially those of you who are crying and freaking out about losing players this offseason.

    Here is another link to it…

  41. By Eric on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply


    I read it. It’s one man’s opinion, just like every reply on this page. It is possible to have a differing opinion.

    I don’t want to pay Dansby and Rolle. But the potential loss of those two players, along with Bertrand Berry and Kurt Warner leave serious holes in the team. That is undeniable. There is an obvious lack of depth in the secondary and linebacker corps, and we still don’t even have a true 3-4 nose tackle.

    Add to this the fact that the Cardinals have heavy restrictions on free agent signings due to the final 8 rules, and it leaves many people wondering what kind of team is going to be on the field in 2010.

    Call it crying, call it freaking out, whatever. What it is is reasonable doubt as to whether or not this team can overcome these major personnel losses in a single season with abnormal restrictions and the 49ers breathing down our necks.

  42. By darrenurban on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply

    Eric —

    Clarification Eric. There are no “heavy” restrictions as a final eight team, as I have come to understand. The Cards weren’t going to deviate from previous years in FA anyway. They already can sign one FA for a first year salary of $5.5 M and as many as they want at $3.7 M and that’s before losing, say, Dansby. If you think about it, how many guys do they sign for that kind of money anyway?

  43. By Eric on Feb 25, 2010 | Reply


    You’re correct. The Cardinals haven’t signed big-money free agents lately. And as far as the restrictions themselves probably don’t qualify as “heavy”. But, the fact that they are potentially losing more impact players than in recent years (and have a resulting abnormally large hole in the payroll) would also make the Cardinals more likely to deviate from past years and pick up some immediate contributors, in my opinion. In addition to the final 8 restrictions, many players who were scheduled to be UFAs are now RFAs. This drastically reduces the players available to the Cardinals in free agency as well, at every salary level.

    I honestly can’t see the Cardinals replacing Rolle or Dansby with anything (immediately) near their talent level from the draft or off the bench. I also can’t see the Cardinals adequately addressing those positions, secondary depth, linebacker depth, and QB depth with just the draft and signing UDFAs, CFL players, and cast-offs from other NFL team.

    One thing I’ve learned is to trust in Whiz, so I’m holding out hope. But, in all honesty, this year has me much more worried than past offseasons.

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