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NFL Franchise Tags: Players to watch


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have said they won't use the franchise tag, even to retain defensive end Michael Bennett. But plenty of other teams will use it, and they have until 4:00 p.m. ET tomorrow to do so. Jairus Byrd, Michael Johnson, Pat McAfee, Ryan Clady and Henry Melton have already been tagged. Jared Cook will reportedly also be tagged. But who should we keep an eye on next? Pro Football Talk has a good overview, and I'll pick out a few players the Bucs are especially likely to be interested in.

Atlanta Falcons: Brent Grimes and William Moore

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers need secondary help, especially at cornerback. Brent Grimes has been a perpetual problem for the Bucs, and especially Josh Freeman, and he would fit in Tampa as a physical, athletic cornerback -- although his size is far from ideal. Another two problems there: he will be 30 once the season starts, and has missed more games than he has played the past two season. Those are major red flags when it comes to free agents, and the Bucs would do well to build in some protection into a potential contract -- or just make it cheap.

William Moore is also an intriguing player, but a relatively poor fit. He's not a very rangy corner and is better suited to in-the-box play than deep safety play. The Bucs already have Barron as the in-the-box specialist, so either he or Moore would be out of position. Plus, there's always the Ronde Barber factor.

One more factor: as @NFLosophy has pointed out, the Bucs love stealing from division rivals. Keydrick Vincent, Michael Koenen and Carl Nicks are proof of that -- as is the team's flirtation with Curtis Lofton last season.

Green Bay Packers: Greg Jennings

The Buccaneers need a slot receiver, and they might make a play for Jennings, who is not expected to demand a lot of money. Still, that would be unexpected, as sinking that much money into one receiving corps is probably a bad long-term investment.

Kansas City Chiefs: Branden Albert

A young and pretty good (though not elite) left tackle? That's always an option you have to examine, even though the Bucs are unlikely to pursue it with Donald Penn still on the roster.

Miami Dolphins: Jake Long

See Branden Albert.

Minnesota Vikings: Phil Loadholt

A solid right tackle who is about to enter his prime? Why not. Dotson would be relegated to pretty good depth, but it would be doable at the right price tag. Unlikely, but possible.

Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Smith

See Phil Loadholt, but add a much higher price tag and a bigger risk because of weight and motivation issues.

New England Patriots: Sebastian Vollmer and Wes Welker

See Greg Jennings for Wes Welker, and Phil Loadholt for Sebastian Vollmer.

New York Giants: Martellus Bennett

The Buccaneers have a big, gaping hole at tight end and Martellus Bennett could fill it easily. He's young, very talented, a bit inconsistent, and the Giants don't have a lot of cap space to retain him. This would probably be the most logical signing for the Buccaneers.

San Francisco 49ers: Dashon Goldson

Solid safety and is probably best as a center-fielder, but I wouldn't call him a difference maker. He's likely to be overpaid. Still, would be an upgrade over Ahmad Black, though perhaps not over Ronde Barber.