The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could start applying the franchise tag to their players today, but they won’t. The tag is a highly expensive option to keep a free agent with your team, and there’s simply no impending free agent for whom the Bucs will or should be willing to pay top dollar
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times made a go of pretending that William Gholston might be a candidate, but he rightly notes that the Bucs aren’t about to pay him $14-17 million, no matter how good of a run-stopper he is.
So no, the Bucs aren’t going to be using the franchise tag this year. Which fits their history: they’ve used it just four times since it was instated in 1993.
The Bucs used the franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth in 2012, but I don’t know if we should count cheap kicker tags as relevant uses. Usually, you think of more expensive players. Those kinds of tags the Bucs have used just three times since it was instated: on left tackle Paul Gruber in 1993, defensive end Chidi Ahanotu in 1999, and wide receiver Antonio Bryant in 2009.
Bryant left in 2010, Ahanotu in 2001, Barth in 2013, and only Gruber stuck around for longer — his entire career in fact, through 1999. That’s not a great history of franchise tag use, really. And the fact that the Bucs don’t have any free agents to use the tag on speaks to their extending their best players in time, not at the lost minute.