|Though Will Beatty has emerged as one of the top young left tackles in the NFL, the Giants are unlikely to use the franchise tag on him over the next two weeks. (US Presswire)|
As a host of prominent New York Giants veterans prepare to enter the open market in free agency, the franchise tag could come in handy for the team during a two-week window that opened Monday.
Giants owner John Mara said Tuesday, via NFL.com, that the team is unlikely to use the designation this offseason. Left tackle Will Beatty, tight end Martellus Bennett and safety Kenny Phillips all appeared as potential candidates to receive the franchise tag.
Beatty, a fourth-year tackle from the University of Connecticut, has improved markedly over the past two seasons. In 2012, he ranked ninth in efficiency among left tackles by Pro Football Focus and is the fourth-ranked tackle among free agents by the website. The 6-foot-6, 319-pound lineman surrendered three sacks last season and didn't allow a single hit on Eli Manning on non-sacks.
A one-year tender with the franchise tag is relatively expensive at $9.66 million per season. By comparison, Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung, the fifth-highest-paid left tackle in the league, made a base salary of $7.06 million in 2012. The Giants could still look to sign a long-term deal with Beatty even if the franchise tag isn't used on him.
In his first year with the Giants, Bennett emerged as a dependable option for Manning. The former Texas A&M tight end finished second on the team in receptions with 55 and touchdowns with five. Bennett's 61-percent catch rate, according to footballoutsiders.com, might provide general manager Jerry Reese with cause for concern as he ponders a long-term deal for the veteran. Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and Redskins tight end Fred Davis both ended the season with catch rates of 75 percent.
Phillips has big-play potential at free safety but has been plagued by injuries throughout his five-year career. The former Miami safety has missed 24 regular-season games over the last four seasons with an injury to his knee.
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