Oakland Raiders Unlikely to Use Franchise Tag
By Chase Ruttig
Sep 30, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie during a press conference to introduce Tony Sparano (not pictured) as Raiders interim coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
For a second straight season, Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie will more than likely not be using his franchise tag, avoiding paying a large one year salary to retain his expiring talent at the expense of 2015 cap space.
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McKenzie, who last used the franchise tag on safety Tyvon Branch in 2012, does not have a player who warrants tagging before 2015 NFL Free Agency begins. Lacking a veteran who would command a large salary on the open market, paying the extremely high price of a franchise tag wouldn’t make sense for the Raiders even if the team needs to reach the cap floor with over $60 million in cap space according to Over the Cap.
Four players received franchise tags during the 2014 offseason, but McKenzie was not one of the general managers who applied the tags, choosing to allow his high priority free agents in Lamarr Houston and Jared Veldheer test the open market rather than overpaying for one of the two talents. In the end both players walked with Veldheer becoming a serviceable starter for the Arizona Cardinals while Houston took a big payday from the Chicago Bears before tearing his ACL after his only sack of the 2014 season during a blowout loss to the New England Patriots.
Right now the Raiders only have seven unrestricted free agents, but none of those free agents would warrant anything close to a franchise tag, something that could be viewed as either positive or negative as the roster does not have a superstar talent who needs to be retained in McKenzie’s fourth offseason in Oakland.
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On the other side of the coin the Raiders also won’t have to commit further cap space by franchise tagging a player on a short term basis, allowing them to attempt to lure some of the most coveted free agents come March 10. Players who will not have been franchise tagged by their teams to become unrestricted free agents and thus up for grabs for McKenzie who will be in the market to make statement signings to get the Raiders back into contention in the AFC West for 2015.
Franchise tag situations will have an impact on the Raiders, as players like Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas and potentially Randall Cobb could could be franchise tagged to thin the wide receiver market for McKenzie. The same can be said about the market for defensive talents with players such as Jason Pierre-Paul being potential tag candidates, even if only four franchise tags were used out of 32 last season.
Regardless of how the franchise tags are handed out, the Raiders will be guaranteed not to use theirs for a second straight season. The Oakland front office will instead be hoping that the rest of the teams in the league opt not to use theirs as well, allowing as much talent as possible to hit the open market to deepen the talent pool for the Raiders who have plenty of cap space to bring in big names during free agency. If that happens McKenzie will have a greater chance of adding superstars to the roster, something the Raiders desperately need to get back into the playoff picture.