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What does tagging Stacy Andrew mean?

Stacy Andrews was, presumably, one of three finalists to be franchised; Justin Smith and Madieu Williams were the others. While the name "Franchise Tag" was originally meant for a way teams could keep their superstars, it would also seem to define a player with limited college and NFL experience. The move can mean one of several things including negotiations with Madieu Williams are encouraging considering the tag would have cost just over $4 million.

Let's examine the move in another I Wonder series.

...what are the costs with Levi Jones, Willie Anderson and Stacy Andrews.
Assuming Andrews signs the Franchise Tag, between he, Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, they are scheduled to make a combined $13,650,000 million for 2008. That figures to just under $20 million against the cap. Even though the majority of any team's success is on the line, that's 17% of the team's cap number with only three players.

...what that means for Levi Jones and Willie Anderson.
Bengals head coach gave praise to Jones playing through injury and earning a spot as alternate to the Pro Bowl while "expressing confidence that Anderson showed in the last two games of the season he can return to form at age 33". There's little reason to believe, other than injury, that the team won't have Jones and Anderson starting at tackle.

...does that mean someone will get cut?
Possibly. If Anderson is cut this year, the Bengals would save $1.6 million (cap value is $5.2 million whereas the dead money is $3.6 million). Cutting Levi Jones would mean the Bengals lose $1.7 million. Both scenarios I don't see happening this season. The most logical move, if the intention is to make Andrews a starter -- if you're making $7.5 million, you better be a starter -- is to cut Bobbie Williams (save $1.3 million) and make Andrews a guard and the team's first backup tackle. Thus, drafting a guard in the 2008 NFL Draft and grooming him as the next "project". Since there's no guarantee that Stacy Andrews will return in 2009, cutting Williams for Andrews would require a limited change on the line in 2009 if Andrews can't be retained.

...what of Justin Smith?
The idea that tagging Justin Smith would mean that the team can't come to terms with the defensive end. The cost was high enough that the Bengals didn't see the fiscal benefit of making the move. It could also mean that the two sides are closer than originally though while both sides meet again very soon. It could also be a sign that the team doesn't expect Smith to be around next season.

Salary figures at go-Bengals.