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Posted by Darren Urban on March 5, 2012 – 3:32 pm

Now that the NFL deadline has passed for teams to use the franchise tag, the list was a lengthy one, which was what everyone was predicting.

A total of 21 players got the tag this year, although that number has already been reduced by one because Colts defensive end Robert Mathis got the tag today and then soon after, agreed to a new contract. That of course is supposed to be the point of the franchise tag in the first place, buying teams time to work out a long-term contract. That’s what the Cards are trying to do with defensive end Calais Campbell. What teams are not supposed to do is tag a guy just so they can trade him. That’s not a rule, but it’s the spirit of the rule. It’s one of the reasons the Packers really didn’t want to tag backup QB Matt Flynn; it’s one of the reasons the Cards didn’t tag either Jake Plummer or David Boston back in 2002 (although part of the reason with Boston too was they didn’t want him getting his guaranteed tender when he was, for lack of a better phrase, unable to be counted upon. That turned out to be pretty smart on their part.)

Although the specific franchise dollar amounts aren’t known yet, they are lower than years past because of the CBA’s new way of figuring them, which helps in the increased use. There are also more free agents, after so many guys either signed one-year deals or didn’t get extensions last offseason because of the labor problems.

Other than Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, for whom Philly would reportedly would listen to trade offers, the rest of the guys on the list are expected to work toward long-term deals with current clubs, like Campbell. There are actually six kickers/punters that were tagged, amazingly. Certainly those aren’t trade candidates. The question will be how many of these tagged men can get a new deal done before Tuesday, when free agency starts and when the tag contract number begins taking a chunk out of salary cap space (Teams have to be compliant with the salary cap when free agency starts, 2 p.m. Arizona time.)


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