The Denver Broncos have a lot of decisions to make regarding their pending free agents..."/> The Denver Broncos have a lot of decisions to make regarding their pending free agents..."/>

Which Player Should The Broncos Franchise Tag?


Jan 13, 2015; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos executive vice president of football operations/general manager John Elway speaks to the media at the Broncos training facility. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have a lot of decisions to make regarding their pending free agents before the March 10th deadline. With so many players finishing the final year of their contracts, it is more than likely that the Broncos will not retain all of them. If they are on the fence about a player or would like to buy a little more time in deciding on how to pay a player, there is always the franchise tag option.

For those who are not familiar to what the franchise tag is, basically what the franchise tag implies is a contractual tool that allows an NFL team to keep a pending unrestricted free agent for one more year. I like to think of it as a player on an NFL roster that could bring the franchise success. However, due to costs, they need to make sure that they can keep the player for a certain amount of time until they can work a deal out for the long term.

As of now, it is uncertain how much cap space there will be (those numbers get clarified later on this month) but thanks to my colleague Dan Armelli for providing me with this information on projected cap numbers for positions by Jason La Canfora, it should give us a good idea on how much the franchise tag would be worth on certain players.

In my last article, I wrote on how Demaryius Thomas’ future could impact the rest of the Denver Broncos free agents. This includes who could or could not be hit with the franchise tag. Many various articles have Demaryius Thomas either getting the franchise tag or the Broncos signing him to a long term deal. It remains to be seen what the team plans to do.

But let us explore into the future. Lets say the Broncos do sign Demaryius Thomas to a long term deal before the franchise tag expires. Now the question lies as to whom the Broncos should use the franchise tag on, assuming that they use the tag at all. There are many different opinions to this questions.

As much as I would enjoy to see the Broncos use the tag on Julius Thomas, this seems very unlikely. While his catches and touchdown numbers are exceptional, he has had issues as far as blocking where Virgil Green thrives. I like Julius Thomas as a player, but the only reason I see the Broncos using the franchise tag on him is for like a last chance to see what he can bring to the team. 2015 then would be like his final act to prove that he can be a player that the team can rely on.

Other options that have came up are Orlando Franklin and Terrance Knighton. We know the Broncos need to really build the offensive line and Franklin has been one of the more consistent players on that line. Knighton has been a force since he came to Denver in 2013, especially in the run game. Both could pose interesting scenarios.

Now that I have voiced my opinion, I decided to see what the staff at Predominantly Orange thinks about the franchise tag situation.

Dan Armelli: I think there are two options that you spend thinking about in regards to the franchise tag: Demaryius and Julius Thomas. In this scenario, DT gets an extension, so that leaves you with the latter. I think a lot of people would say to tag Julius, but his blocking is so horrendous and he had such a weird year that I wouldn’t be comfortable paying him that much money. I think the only reasonable way to look at giving him the tag is to see if he is in fact worth a big long contract. But even then, you’re going to be paying so many other players to huge contracts, it might not be worth it to pay him loads of money with DT, Sanders, and Latimer (if he breaks through).

Terrance Knighton and Orlando Franklin are also fine players and best case scenario the Broncos bring them back. In Franklin’s case, I think there’s a good chance his stock increases next year and if you tag him, you’ll likely have to pay him bigger money than you would if you re-signed him this year. With Knighton, at 28 years old, I think we pretty much know who he is. And while what he is is a great player fit for our team, there’s no reason to force the issue by paying him around 10 million when he’s said he would take a hometown discount to stay in Denver.

The bottom line is the only player on the team that deserves the franchise tag is Demaryius Thomas. While I think the Broncos would be willing to use the tag on him, I think they strike up a deal and end up not using the tag at all this offseason.

Sayre Bedinger:The Broncos might just tag Demaryius so they can assure themselves as much time as is needed to negotiate a long-term deal. If a deal is somehow struck before the tag is determined to be necessary, then I would say not to use it.

Simply put, no one else on the team besides Demaryius Thomas is worth the franchise tag, unless there’s something John Elway and the gang know about Julius Thomas that we don’t.

Matt Petrero: I tend to agree with Sayre and Dan D.T. Seems to be the only tag-worthy FA on the roster. I don’t think Pot Roast is a $10 Million per year guy. If you’re going to pay him 10, explore what it would take to get Ndomukong Suh in here. We have the cap space to pursue him. I can’t imagine him not fitting in the 3-4.

As for Julius Thomas, the TE becomes as valuable as a down the field blocker than as a pass catcher. Julius has proven to not be the physical presence he needs to be so he is not worth the average price tag of the top 5.

Anybody else on the roster worth keeping will not be cap-prohibitive so there’s no need to use it.

Kyle McKinnon: Definitely agree with what the rest of the guys said. After DT, Orlando Franklin is and will prove to be more valuable than Pot Roast, so he’d be next in line to get tagged, I suppose.

Ian St. Clair: Tag Demaryius Thomas or don’t use it. The only player you could even consider using the tag on is Orlando Franklin since he’s just as important as DT. But the thing about the franchise tag is it’s a last resort option. If you can avoid using it teams need to do so.