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Tagging Shayne Graham makes sense; not that they needed to use the tag anyway

Applying to the theory that if you have a franchise tag so you must apply it to a player, then placing the franchise tag on Shayne Graham makes the most sense of those that were discussed. Like Rudi Johnson in 2004, the Bengals will likely come to terms with a long-term deal after free agency starts so Graham won't count $2.48 million against the salary cap of 2009. In my mind, the issue isn't whether tagging Graham was a good move or not -- in the end, it's not going to matter one bit. But we're going to point out reasons why tagging Graham of the eligible players made the most sense.

Tagging Houshmandzadeh never made sense; especially the more he Kathy-chatted to the media. It didn't make sense to pay him $9.88 million for a season whereas his future with the team would always be in doubt, thus a long-term deal very unlikely. This is the same guy that says, "I didn’t go to the last two off season workouts because I was underpaid." Clearly the obvious point, Houshmandzadeh doesn't want to be in Cincinnati. Forcing him to remain wouldn't help the Bengals, especially in the lockerroom with younger impressionable players. While Houshmandzadeh is the most deserved of the "Franchise" name, the reason that they system was implemented in the first place, Houshmandzadeh made the least amount of sense. Negotiations wouldn't progress, and the Bengals would be below $20 million against the cap whereas they were between $28-29 million before franchising Graham.

Cedric Benson, while an entertaining thought, didn't make sense either. If the Bengals tendered him a one-year deal, the cost would run $6,621,000. To put that in perspective, here's the top-five payrolls of 2008 which influences this year's franchise level costs.

LaDainian Tomlinson
Edgerrin James
Jamal Lewis
Ronnie Brown
Clinton Portis
Franchise: $6.62 million.
Larry Johnson
Thomas Jones
Reggie Bush
Fred Taylor
Deuce McAllister
Transition: $5.93 million.

To me, on first impression, most of those players weren't as effective as their salary would indicate -- generally speaking, of course. Therefore you have to conclude that Benson just isn't worth the price at a position that could see a player dive-bomb at a moment's notice -- if not a big-money signature (ala Larry Johnson). Let's also point out that Benson played 12 games last season, and 47 out of 64 since 2005. Would you pay Benson $6.6 million? There's a fine line of over-paying out of desperation than paying out of need. Whether or not the Bengals have adapted that understanding, is clearly unanswered.

In the end, if the Bengals were going to use the Franchise Tag as a way to prolong negotiations since they fail at that more than any other team acquiring new free agents and keeping their own. Of the players that were eligible and likely, it made the most sense using it on Shayne Graham. However, the argument as to whether the Bengals needed to use the tag in the first place, is a completely different discussion. This writer says "no."

WDR doesn't like it. Neither did WhoDeyFans. Chicker likes the move, as does C. Trent.

What needs to be understood here is that the Bengals aren't likely to pay Graham that money. It's a tactic used to continue negotiations without the interference of other teams. And if they don't agree to long terms, then they pay him $2.5 million with between $25-26 million against the cap anyway -- more than enough room to acquire more players in free agency. You didn't expect the Bengals to dish out a massive contract for an available free agent, did you?

Note: Since some people, not resident to this site, tend to make up an opinion that they believe I hold, let me be crystal clear. I'm not gushing over the fact that Graham is franchised, only that it made more sense of the three that were popularly figured to be given the tag. Personally, I don't think the Bengals needed to use it.

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