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Indianapolis Colts Free Agents: Who Is in Play for the Franchise Tag?

Posted By Kyle J. Rodriguez On January 14, 2014 @ 8:00 am In Colts News | No Comments

When it comes to offseason negotiations, the NFL [1] has all kinds of different types of contracts, tags and free-agent categories. Each individual team has to decide how to use the different options available to them. 

One of the more well-known options is the franchise tag. Not every team uses the franchise tag every season, but most NFL fans know of the tag and its effects.

The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract of an amount determined by the position of a player. The contract worth is generally equal to the average of the top five salaries at any given position. For more information on the franchise tag, check out Jesse Reed’s complete guide [2] from last offseason. 

The Indianapolis Colts [3] utilized the tag in 2013, tagging punter Pat McAfee. Will McAfee be tagged again in 2014 as the Colts try to beef up their roster, or will a new player be tagged in 2014? Check out all the different possibilities, in alphabetical order, below. 

For this piece, the “franchise tag” or “tag” refers to the non-exclusive franchise tag. All contract information per Spotrac.com [4]

 

Antoine Bethea

The 29-year-old safety has been through a lot during his years in Indianapolis. Bethea was on both the 2006 and 2009 teams that appeared in the Super Bowl and has been an iron man for the Colts for his entire career. Unfortunately, that may be coming to a close. 

Bethea’s contract is up this offseason, and while he signed a four-year, $26 million contract in 2009, he’s not going to get that kind of money this time around. Bethea was a cap hit of $5.75 million in 2013, and a franchise tag would shoot it up to just under $7 million.

The Colts need to save money on the safeties with LaRon Landry already getting paid, and another high-priced free agent seems unlikely. A safety is needed, but it feels like Bethea will be elsewhere in 2014. 

 

Donald Brown

The only offensive starter who is actually a starting-caliber player and a free agent this season, Brown played very well all season but is a very unlikely target for the tag. Running backs in general are not often tagged. Darren Sproles and Brandon Jacobs in 2009, Marshawn Lynch [5] in 2010 and Matt Forte [6] in 2013 are the only tags in recent history. 

Brown averaged over five yards per carry this season, which is great, but nobody will pay him like a top-five running back in 2014, including the Colts. He’s not worth an $8 million-plus contract. A $2-3 million per year deal seems much more likely. 

 

Vontae Davis

Now, Davis is probably the player on this list who will get the biggest payday, but that doesn’t mean he’s the most likely to get tagged. Davis was a fine corner this season, but he didn’t do enough to be paid nearly $11 million per year, and a few dollars isn’t going to kill them. A little notice would be nice. 

While Davis deserves a nice pay raise, a $9 million increase would be more than anybody expects. But the Colts drastically need to keep a guy like Davis. They need a cornerback, namely one that can start at the No. 1 spot and can play man-to-man on the outside. If the Colts and Davis can’t come to an agreement, the Colts may give in and tag him for 2014, hoping to get a long-term deal done early in the season. 

While it’s not ideal, Davis’ getting franchised would give the Colts more time to negotiate, if need be.

 

Pat McAfee

There’s a perception that McAfee can’t be franchised since he was tagged this season. That’s untrue.

McAfee can be tagged again, but for 120 percent of the money he received last season, which would give him about $3.6 million in 2014. That would be the fourth-highest cap hit for a punter in 2014 [7]

That’s actually not a bad price for McAfee, who is both a good on-field punter and off-field presence for Indianapolis. McAfee likely gets a long-term deal, either here or on a different planet, but another tagging is not out of the question. 

 

Mike McGlynn

Just kidding. 

 

Adam Vinatieri

“Vinny” was as strong as ever for Indianapolis in 2013, hitting 35-of-40 field goals. His 87.5 percent completion percentage was the fifth-best of his career.

He still has some leg left in him, but at 41, he’s not going to get a long-term contract. If he gets a deal with Indianapolis, it will be small and short (one to two years). At that size, tagging him would just seem like an insult. 

Read more Indianapolis Colts [3] news on BleacherReport.com


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URLs in this post:

[1] NFL: http://bleacherreport.com/nfl

[2] Jesse Reed’s complete guide: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1553248-nfl-franchise-tag-2013-explaining-rules-types-and-values-for-every-position

[3] Indianapolis Colts: http://bleacherreport.com/indianapolis-colts

[4] Spotrac.com: http://www.spotrac.com

[5] Marshawn Lynch: http://bleacherreport.com/marshawn-lynch

[6] Matt Forte: http://bleacherreport.com/matt-forte

[7] cap hit for a punter in 2014: http://www.spotrac.com/rankings/nfl/2014/cap-hit/punter/limit-25/

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