If the Cincinnati Bengals want to apply the franchise tag on any of their players, they have until 4 p.m. (ET) on Monday to make it happen.
Don't expect anything to happen today.
According to Bengals.com and the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals aren't expected to use their franchise tag, largely due to significant investment that it would take to retain their top two free agents.
To keep offensive tackle Anthony Collins in Cincinnati via the franchise tag, it will cost the team $11.654 million -- all of it guaranteed. Defensive end Michael Johnson is another possibility, but the cost just isn't practical. Because Johnson was franchised in 2013, the cost for franchising him for a consecutive season is either 120 percent of his previous salary or the 2014 franchise tag number -- whichever is greater. For Johnson, we're applying the former, costing the team $13.41 million -- nearly $300,000 more than the franchise tag number for a defensive end in 2014.
The franchise tag, originally used to keep your best player, has become a negotiation ploy for continued negotiation towards a long-term extension. If Cincinnati feels that an agreement is close, it's entirely possible that Collins is tagged for the sake of exclusive negotiations and eliminating the threat of another team jumping into the fray.
That said, the Bengals haven't had much success in signing franchise players to long-term extensions.
The last five to sign a franchise tag prior to Michael Johnson were Justin Smith, Stacy Andrews, Shayne Graham, Mike Nugent and Rudi Johnson. Smith, Andrews and Graham left the following season. Smith signed the franchise tag in 2007, which was worth $8.644 million. He left for the 49ers the following season. The team used their franchise tag on Andrews worth $7.455 million in 2008 -- he left for the Eagles the following year. Graham signed his franchise tag worth $2.483 million in 2009 and left the following year, signing a deal with the Ravens.
Before Mike Nugent returned in 2013 (after his franchise tag expired), the last player to stay in Cincinnati after signing the franchise tag was running back Rudi Johnson in 2005. Johnson was the last player to sign a long-term deal during the same offseason that he was franchised.
Currently three players in the NFL have been franchised by their respective teams -- Carolina's Greg Hardy, New Orleans' Jimmy Graham and New York's Nick Folk.