The next big date on the offseason calendar arrives on Wednesday, February 15 when teams can begin using their franchise and transition tag designations. Most teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, will not use the tag, but there will be a small group of players that get tagged.
We’ll have more on the process tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, the Arizona Cardinals have made it clear they will use their tag on pass rusher Chandler Jones. Team president Michael Bidwill said on Tuesday they are not going to play around in making sure they can retain Jones. Bidwill said, “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”
Jones is a great talent, but it is clear he will not be leaving Arizona this year. However, in choosing to use the tag on him, the Cardinals could potentially lose safety Tony Jefferson and defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Both are unrestricted free agents, and given the amount of cap space a lot of teams will have, both are expected to test the market before agreeing to any kind of contract.
Defensive line and safety are two positions the 49ers might not be inclined to spend money on this offseason, but Campbell and Jefferson are two of the better talents out there. The 49ers lack depth at most positions, but you could argue the defensive line and safety positions have more veteran depth than any other unit on the roster. That being said, with this kind of cap room and a new front office and coaching staff, anything is possible next month in free agency and the following month in the 2017 NFL Draft.