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How have franchise tags worked out for players in 2012?

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer
Some franchise situations are resolved. Others? Not so much. (Getty Images)

Way back in March, we tracked all the franchise tags that were handed out to NFL players. All in all, 21 players were tagged. Some of those players have worked out deals. But as you might guess, some of them have not. With the July 16 deadline looming, let's take a look at where these players stand with respect to their contract situations.

Unsigned, Contentious Holdout Looming
Drew Brees, QB, Saints: Somehow Brees' contract negotiations are going to end up being the ugliest thing that happens to the Saints this offseason. Both sides are otherwise engaged: Tom Benson and Mickey Loomis are having a roundball dance party over the acquisition of Anthony Davis, and Drew Brees is trying to sell New Orleans-area civilians on Jimmy John's delicious new Nyquil sandwich.

Cliff Avril, DE, Lions: Avril doesn't understand why a new deal is so "complicated," but I do -- the Lions have over half their freaking cap space tied up in Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johson, Ndamukong Suh and Avril (should he sign his tag). Avril's been complaining about a potential tag since way before he was hit with it, and it wouldn't be surprising if he made this ugly before showing up.

Matt Forte, RB, Bears: Forte's felt underpaid for years now. The icing on the cake was when Chicago signed Michael Bush as his "backup." How long can a guy risk going out there and suffering injury when the guy behind him is making more money? He had a lot more leverage when the Bears were bringing in washed-up backups like Marion Barber and Chester Taylor.

Ray Rice, RB, Ravens: My money is on Rice eventually showing up with the Ravens and/or Baltimore paying him before things get too ugly. He's not the type of guy to put that team in jeopardy. (Plus, you know what happens if Ray Lewis comes to your house and tells you to go to camp? You go to camp.) But Rice has also seen what some of his peers are making and, like Forte, he's not happy. He makes this offense go so he's got leverage.

Dwayne Bowe, WR, Chiefs: This is my sleeper for a potentially ugly holdout. No one's talking about Bowe wanting the money, but don't you think he saw what guys like Pierre Garcon and Laurent Robinson got paid this offseason? And don't you think he's not happy about the possibility of a one-year deal? And don't you think he knows how important he is to the Chiefs passing game? I'm telling you, sleeper situation for a nightmare here.

Unsigned, Unlikely Holdout Looming
Dashon Goldson, S, 49ers: The latest word on Goldson is that he wants an "almost identical" deal to what Griffin (below) got from Tennessee. That makes sense, I suppose, and it also makes sense that the Niners want to keep their defense together. They might also feel bad about already getting a single $2 million year out of him.

Josh Scobee, K, Jaguars: The Jags apparently haven't spoken with Scobee in "months," which isn't a great sign. But it would bananas to see a kicker (a kicker!!!) hold out instead of signing a franchise tag. Of course, Scobee was, quite literally, the second-best player on the Jacksonville offense last year. So maybe he has a point.

Matt Prater, K, Broncos: Homeboy has to cash in on all that Tim Tebow success he rode. Or was it Tebow riding Prater? Whatever, the word out of Denver is that Prater and the Broncos are close on a long-term deal worth $3 million a year. When I have a son, we're moving to Denver and training him, Tiger Woods-style, to be an NFL kicker.

Signed Tag, Negotiations Ongoing
Wes Welker, WR, Patriots: Welker's got 9.5 million problems, but a contract isn't one. OK, he actually one problem (a lack of contract) and $9.5 million guaranteed. He'd love a new deal before the deadline, but that's only going to happen if he's willing to cave to some of the Patriots demands. Who knows, maybe marriage will change him.

Tyvon Branch, S, Raiders: Branch picked up $6.2 million guaranteed when he inked his tag, and it was probably a wise move. New Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie is not messing around when it comes to personnel. Staging anything resembling a holdout and/or demand for a new deal might've gotten Branch cut. Recent news indicates Branch could end up signing a new extension, but it's no guarantee.

Brent Grimes, CB, Falcons: Grimes was thinking about leveraging his strong play into a situation where he didn't sign his tag and tried to demand a new deal. Then the rumors about the Falcons trading for Asante Samuel heated up and Grimes tore into the Atlanta offices faster he looked like an opposing linebacker chasing down Michael Turner.

Anthony Spencer, LB, Cowboys: Spencer was so pumped not to be put out on the street that he signed his tag. Both sides know this is a make/break year for the linebacker; if he can produce at the level they expect, Dallas has a better shot of making the playoffs and Spencer can get paid as a free agent.

Mike Nugent, K, Bengals: Presumably if someone offers you more than $2 million guaranteed to kick footballs, you take that money and run.

Phil Dawson, K, Browns: If that monetary amount is even larger ($3.81 million) because this is the second time your team has franchised you, you take that money and run faster.

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins: Davis would be a serious candidate for an extension, but Washington probably wants to make sure he gets through the season first. Davis was suspended four games last season and another drug bust could result in a lenghtier suspension.

Signed New Contract
Michael Griffin, S, Titans: Griffin inked his new deal this week; CBSSports.com's Jason LaCanfora reports it's worth $35 million with $15 million guaranteed. Griffin was quiet about his tag leading up to the new deal but this is one to watch in terms of how it sets the market for Branch and Goldson.

DeSean Jackson, WR, Eagles: Jackson finally got paid by Philly to the tune of a five-year, $48.5 million deal. Even with all the running backs and kickers on this list, Jackson's deal might be the most controversial. The Eagles got a steal if 2009 D-Jax plays this deal out. If 2011 Jackson shows up, they're going to feel a little cheated by this price.

Robert Mathis, DE, Colts: Mathis' franchise tag was reportedly only because the Colts couldn't get the deal that the two sides wanted done before the tagging deadline. I'm not even sure he had a chance to sign it before they locked him up with a four-year, $36 million deal. How he and Dwight Freeney work in Chuck Pagano's 3-4 defense will be interesting to watch.

Calais Campbell, DE, Cardinals: Campbell's tag worked out quite nicely as he picked up a five-year, $55 million deal from Arizona after getting tagged. Pete Prisco correctly called him the most underrated player on the Cardinals roster. Campbell's contract could look pretty good if he continues to develop in Ray Horton's 3-4 scheme.

Steve Weatherford, P, Giants: If you wanna pay a punter over the next five years do it. The Giants did, giving Weatherford a five-year, $12.75 million deal. Although Jerry Reese may still be so terrified of DeSean Jackson's return two years ago that he's willing to pay whatever as long as the punter listens to what his coach tells him.

Connor Barth, K, Buccaneers: "Wait ... you're going to give me tens of millions of dollars for multiple years to kick footballs? And I sign ... where?"

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

 
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