Interested in defensive end Michael Johnson and is 11.5 sacks in 2012?
Sorry. After the Bengals placed the franchise tag on the defensive end, you’ll have to be willing to give up
to two first-round draft picks to sign him. Ditto for Henry Melton, defensive tackle for the Bears.
Monday is the deadline for teams to place the franchise tag on a would-be free agent, meaning the open-market options may shrink further. Randy Starks in Miami is one player to keep an eye on in that regard. He’s 29 and has played nine seasons.
Update: Starks has been designated with the franchise tag, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
As for the Seahawks, it’s pretty much certain that they won’t be using the tag, the third consecutive year they declined to do so.
Johnson and Melton were two players who fit the profile of high-end free agents the Seahawks targeted in 2011, adding receiver Sidney Rice and tight end Zach Miller. Both were in their mid-20s. Each had played four years before reaching free agency. But the fact Johnson and Melton were both tagged shows it’s unusual for a productive defensive lineman in his mid-20s to hit the market unencumbered.
Baltimore’s Paul Kruger will, but the fact the whole world knows his name after a playoff run in which he totaled 4.5 sacks means it likely a team will have to pay top dollar to get him.