On Monday, with most NFL players enjoying one of their last full weeks of vacation before training camp, some were not resting too easily as they awaited the 4 p.m. deadline to either reach a contract agreement with their teams or play under the franchise tag for the 2013 season.
At the 11th hour on Sunday evening, Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady dodged the tag bullet and signed a hefty five-year, $52.5 million base salary deal ($33 million guaranteed for the first three years). The contract has a $57.5 million maximum value, according to NFL.com, if Clady is named to two Pro Bowls.
As the clock has now passed the deadline, here’s the players who will now play under the franchise tag this year.
Michael Johnson, DE (Cincinnati Bengals $11.175 million tag): Johnson is the sole player in the group to actually have his team and his people still conducting talks on Monday. The team did have the salary-cap space to sign him to a long-term deal but instead showed fellow defensive end Carlos Dunlap the love with a six-year, $40 million deal. He will now earn $20 million over the next two years with an opportunity for an additional $4.5 million in incentives.
This may not bode well for Johnson next year and defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who also be looking for a long-term contract in next year’s offseason.
Jairus Byrd, S (Buffalo Bills $6.9 million tag): Byrd strongly desired to be paid as the highest safety in the league and well, that didn’t happen as he has no long-term contract. Discussions are expected to go into training camp while Byrd will continue to be assessed to see if he’ll fit in new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s scheme.
Henry Melton, DT (Chicago Bears $8.45 million tag): Melton didn’t come to an agreement with the Bears and will play under the tag. Earlier, Melton said he’d be o.k. with this. In 2012 he ranked No. 3 among league defensive tackles with his six sacks. He also had forced two fumbles during this time. Melton is entering his sixth season and in the last two, he had 13 sacks, which gave him a No. 2 ranking for his position during that time.
Anthony Spencer, DE (Dallas Cowboy $10.63 million tag): In June, discussions between the team and Spencer’s people came to a halt. It was decided that the player would play in 2013 with the tag. In 2012, Spencer had 11 sacks.
Branden Albert, OT (Kansas City Chiefs $9.828 million tag): The Kansas City Chiefs had supposedly been talking with Albert’s people on Sunday but the deadline has come and past. Not helping matters is the fact that the team’s No. 1 pick was offensive tackle Eric Fisher who comes with high expectations. Paying Albert a lot of money lacked appeal with this rookie in the house.
Pat McAfee, P (Indianapolis Colts $2.977 million tag): McAfee will play this season with the tag. Whether or not the team ever gives him a long-term deal remains to be seen but the player also seemed o.k. with the franchise tag. In 2012, McAfee had a personal best with an average punt of 47.9 yards. This ranked him as No. 6 in the league.
Randy Starks, DT (Miami Dolphins $8.45 million tag): Serious talks never really took place with Starks and to show his displeasure playing under the franchise tag, he did not go to voluntary team workouts but he did participate in the mandatory minicamp. Starks’ fellow defensive tackle Paul Solai is playing in his final year of his contract and the team will likely re-assess which player (s), if any, will come back for 2014.