Will the Packers use the franchise tag this offseason?

Green Bay Packers, Mason Crosby (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Mason Crosby (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

It’s unlikely the Packers will use the franchise tag in 2020, but let’s look at potential candidates.

Free agency is only five weeks away. Before then, each team will need to decide whether to use the franchise tag.

This allows teams to prevent a key player from hitting free agency. That’s the good part for the team. The downside is they are given a one-year deal making them one of the highest-paid players at their respective position, which means a high cap hit.

This year, the Packers will have between February 25 and March 10 to decide whether to use the tag. If they do, they’d then have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with that player. If not, the only option would be to play on the tag or to rescind it, making the player a free agent immediately.

To use the franchise tag, the Packers would need to be desperate to keep one of their pending free agents, to the point that a big contract or high salary cap hit for one year would be necessary.

Looking at the Packers’ list of unrestricted free agents this year, it looks unlikely the team will use the franchise tag.

Bryan Bulaga is still one of the best right tackles in football, but Over The Cap projects using the tag on Bulaga would come with a cap hit of just over $16 million. That’s more than they are paying left tackle David Bakhtiari, an All-Pro four straight years.

While it’s possible the Packers could use the tag with the hope of working out a long-term deal, it seems unlikely given his age and injury history.

The only name that stands out as a real candidate for the franchise tag is Mason Crosby.

Every team wants to have a reliable kicker. Few actually achieve that. Crosby consistently produces year after year and this season set a career-best on field goals with a 91.7 percent conversion.

Over The Cap projects the salary cap hit on the franchise tag would be $5.3 million for Crosby. While that might seem high and it would make him the highest-paid kicker in the NFL, it’s a manageable cap hit. In 2019, Crosby’s cap hit was $4.85 million, according to Spotrac. It wouldn’t require a huge jump in cap hit next season.

Also, there’s a good chance the Packers and Crosby would be able to work out a long-term deal before July, which would give Crosby the security of a longer contract while potentially lowering the cap hit year to year.

However, at this stage, I’d guess it’s still very unlikely the tag is used. I predict Crosby will agree a long-term deal prior to the start of free agency.

If not Crosby, we can likely assume the Packers won’t be using the franchise tag in 2020.