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Why The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Not Use The Franchise Tag on Barrett Ruud

Going on 1040 AM to talk Bucs, Stephen Holder claimed that the Bucs could use the franchise tag on Barrett Ruud. Superficially, this makes sense: the Bucs don't seem to want to make Barrett Ruud a long-term Buccaneer but both of their replacement options - Tyrone McKenzie and Mason Foster - are young players with very little experience. In addition, they are lacking coaching this offseason to prepare them for such a role.The ideal solution would be to have Barrett Ruud for one year while these two players learn the ropes. 

Unfortunately, Stephen Holder's proposed solution is very unrealistic. Mostly because the deadline to use the franchise tag passed some four months ago. Even if the Bucs wanted to franchise Ruud, they can only do so if the new CBA provides teams with a new window to use those tags this offseason, and there is no reason to assume that will happen. Plenty of teams used the tag at the time: The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise Lamarr Woodley, the New England Patriots franchised Logan Mankins, the Baltimore Ravens franchised Haloti Ngata, the San Diego Chargers franchised Vincent Jackson - the list goes on and on. If the Bucs wanted to franchise Ruud, they should've done so in February when the window for doing so was open. Now it's too late. 

Which brings me to my next point: clearly, the Buccaneers do not want to use the franchise tag on the Middle Linebacker. In February the draft had not taken place, and the Bucs had only Tyrone McKenzie as a possible replacement on the roster. Everyone in the NFL knew that a lockout was likely coming, and that if a lockout was going to happen offseason practices would be lost. The situation the Bucs are in now is exactly the situation they should have expected back in February. They knew that they were going to have to either sign Barrett Ruud to an extension, use the franchise tag on him, or throw a poorly-prepared player into the fire. Yet they chose not to use the franchise tag on him. The situation hasn't changed in any real way, so why would the Bucs now decide to franchise Ruud, even if they could?