As we enter NFL Combine week, another deadline with practical implications on free agency approaches. NFL teams have until this Friday, February 22, to slap a player with the franchise or transition tag. From the free agency side of things, this creates a bit of artificial competition for other guys on the market. From the team-player relationship standpoint, much acrimony can ensue since a player often has to sign for that 1-year franchise offer.
Up to this point, franchised players included Eagles TE LJ Smith and Bengals guard Stacy Andrews. Today got a little more interesting as Jared Allen of the Kansas City Chiefs and Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens were designated as franchise players. Neither is particularly surprising, but each comes with their own little twist. There has been interest from 49ers fans in signing Suggs and Allen would certainly be a quality signing considering his talent and age (25).
Jared Allen's case is interesting in that he said that if he didn't sign a long term deal by mid-July he would not sign a long term deal with Kansas City at all. Personally I think this is more bluster than anything and he's just trying to force the Chiefs to the negotiating table. For a guy like Allen, clearly talent is not an issue. My question is, would you give up two first round picks and a likely good chunk of change for him? He's been a 4-3 defensive end, but from what I've read he could transition to the 3-4 end without too much trouble. Just one more thing to consider with a guy like him.
Terrell Suggs is in a pretty unique situation concerning his franchise designation. He was designated by the Ravens as a linebacker, which includes a 1-year tender offer of $8.065 million. However, Suggs claims he played more than 50% of defensive snaps at defensive end and should be designated accordingly. The 1-year tender offer for a defensive end is $8.879 million, a nice little $800K bump. It sounds like he'll challenge the designation insofar as he should be listed as a defensive end. Beyond that, he doesn't sound quite as pissed off as Allen and expects he and the Ravens can work out a long-term deal this offseason.
Would you give up a pair of first rounders for either of these guys? There is no question about their talent. It simply becomes a matter of almost paying twice: once in cash and once in draft picks. Either guy would really help to flesh out the pass rush, which was such a weakness last season. They're certainly more of a sure thing than virtually any draft pick will ever be, but it's still a steep price. And of course, there is also the fact that this means Marques Douglas has a couple less guys to compete against in free agency. I don't think it will drastically alter his asking price as Suggs and Allen are on a whole other level from Douglas. However, it certainly can't be hurting him.