The first big step toward NFL free agency gets going Tuesday, February 16, as teams can begin assigning the franchise and transition tags on potential unrestricted free agents. The San Francisco 49ers are not expected to use either tag this offseason, but one likely tag elsewhere is going to be an interesting one.
The Denver Broncos are expected to use the franchise tag on Von Miller while they try and figure out a long-term deal. They have until March 1 to make their decision. If they apply it, they then have until July 15 to reach terms on a long-term deal. After that, the player has to play the year on the franchise tender.
ESPN projected out the franchise tenders, and have linebackers earning $14.1 million. Miller might file a grievance to try and get recognized as a defensive end (tender is $15.5 million), but either way, he's going to earn a sizable chunk of change. Once he signs the tender, it becomes fully guaranteed.
The question for the Broncos then becomes what happens with quarterback Brock Osweiler. If they do not come to terms with Miller, he gets the franchise tag, and there is no real debate to be had on that. But things get interesting depending on Peyton Manning's future, and what other teams see in Osweiler. He replaced Manning in the starting lineup, only to be benched at the end of the season. Manning seems just about finished. He could very well stick around in Denver another year, but it seems unlikely.
Amidst all this, Osweiler could very well find a decent market for his services. Plenty of teams need a quarterback, or could end up needing one (see 49ers, San Francisco). How will the market then shake out? We don't know what the Broncos have considered offering Osweiler. I imagine some discussions have either started already, or will start at the Combine, but time is running short, and this is probably going to get at least a little bit interesting between the two parties.