Earlier this afternoon, the deadline passed for teams to place their franchise or transition tags on players. The San Francisco 49ers did not utilize the tag, which should surprise nobody. With the signing of Anquan Boldin, the only potential candidates would have been Donte Whitner and Tarell Brown. That was not happening.
Now that the deadline is in our rear view mirror, here are the six tags that were utilized:
Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag
Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints
Nick Folk, K, New York Jets
Brian Orakpo, LB, Washington
Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns
Jason Worilds, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
There is an exclusive franchise tag that prevents a player from negotiating with anybody, but nobody used that this year. The non-exclusive tag allows the player to shop his services, but requires the corresponding team give up a pair of first round picks on top of the new contract. There are some players where it makes sense to make the sacrifice, but for the four this year, I'm not sure it's worth the value. Jimmy Graham is very talented, but I just don't know that I'd give up a pair of ones and a big contract. I'm sure others would disagree.
The transition tag does not provide draft pick compensation. Instead, a club has the right of first refusal on any contract on a contract. The tender amount is less than the franchise tender, but still a nice chunk of change. It is rarely used, so it is a bit of surprise to see two transition tags.
The bigger news with franchise tags is in who was not tagged. The most notable player for 49ers fans is probably Indianapolis Colts cornerback Vontae Davis. The 49ers are likely in the market for cornerback help, and it's easy to look to Vernon's brother as a potential option. Davis is reportedly in negotiations with the Colts for an extension. The team elected not to franchise him, which means they have less than a week of exclusive negotiating left before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
The market for Davis is going to be an interesting one, particularly in light of the contract Brent Grimes secured. He got a four year deal worth $32 million with $16 million guaranteed. Grimes turns 31 years old later this summer, while Vontae Davis turns 26. It's safe to say Davis can probably ask for $20 million plus in guarantees, and potentially more years. That's some serious coin.
The 49ers could decide to get in on these sweepstakes, but I just don't see it happening. Even with the current "championship window", it just does not make sense to spend the kind of cap space you'd need to make this sort of deal happen. The 49ers need help at cornerback, but with the money Davis would command, why not invest in a first round cornerback, and use some of the remaining money to beef up your depth? Davis has more experience than any rookie cornerback, but I still don't think it's worth the money.
That being said, I emailed the folks at Stampede Blue to get their thoughts on Davis. I know people are interested in potentially pursuing Davis, so it won't hurt to get together a bit of a scouting report on him. We'll hopefully have that for you tomorrow.