USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals could resort to using the franchise tag if the team wants to keep a player off the open market (and presumably failing to come to an agreement).
Andre Smith. Michael Johnson. Rey Maualuga. These are just a handful of players entering the offseason this year as an unrestricted free agent. Other names include Adam Jones, Wallace Gilberry, Kevin Huber, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson. The list goes on.
If at some point the Cincinnati Bengals are unable to sign one of their top free agent targets, preferably on the offensive line and relatively young, they can always use the franchise tag on said player. If they use the tag on Andre Smith this year, it will cost the Bengals $9.660 million of guaranteed money for the 2013 season, or until a long-term deal is settled. Defensive end Michael Johnson would cost $10.984 million, the second-highest position in the league.
According to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport, who uses NFL sources, tentative franchise tag numbers have been tentatively set.