The deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise (or transition) tag on a player is March 1st by 4:00 PM ET. Two years ago, the Cleveland Browns slapped the transition tag on C Alex Mack, and that's part of the reason they have his unconventional opt out situation coming up on March 4th. Last year, the team did not use the tag on anybody, and there haven't been too many rumblings of them using it this year either.
Back in mid-February, we discussed the option of using the tag on either RT Mitchell Schwartz or S Tashaun Gipson. It seems highly unlikely the team would use it on Schwartz, given the amount that offensive tackles make, but the cost for safeties is much more manageable for one year.
When we polled fans, 14% said they would tag Schwartz, 40% said they would tag Gipson, and 46% said they wouldn't use the tag on either player. Today, the NFLPA officially announced the amounts teams would have to spend for using either the franchise or the transition tag. Here are those amounts for offensive linemen and safeties:
OL = $13.706 million
S = $10.806 million
OL = $11.902 million
S = $9.116 million
Last week, it was reported that Gipson has the impression that the Browns are willing to let them walk. At the time, I said, "If his sights are set on a 5-year, $47.5 million type of deal with that much money guaranteed ($28.5 million), then it's no wonder the Browns aren't even bothering to contact him." As of today, Gipson's tune doesn't sound like it's changed:
#Browns S Donte Whitner has talked to Tashaun Gipson: "I don't think he's too hopeful he's going to be back"— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) February 29, 2016
Last year was not a banner season for Gipson, but with the amount of cap space Cleveland has, I do think there is some slight intrigue to using the transition tag on him, which is $1.69 million less than the transition tag. Yes, other teams can sign him away from Cleveland, but let's see if Gipson really gets that "massive deal" he thinks teams will give him. If a team will fork it over, let him go. If nobody bites, though, the team would get one more year to determine whether Gipson is truly an elite-level safety, or if last year's woes are indicative of the player he really is.
Earlier this week, Sashi Brown said he did not expect to use the franchise tag. "We know those are kind of tools in the toolbox here but we don't expect to do that," said Brown. "I think there a couple players that you would say we might at those positions, Tashaun in particular. We would hope to come to a long-term deal with Tashaun, so I don't expect it at this point."
Ultimately, I think nothing will happen, but we'll keep our ears open just in case.