Update: Chiefs reportedly plan to tag Berry
The deadline for the Kansas City Chiefs to use the franchise tag comes on Tuesday at 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time). We haven't heard much of anything from the Chiefs in regards to the tag, although Eric Berry and Sean Smith seem like the top contenders to be tagged -- if the Chiefs use it.
Chiefs GM John Dorsey was impressively vague when asked about the tag last week.
"As we move forward here, I've used a franchise tag in the past, and it's not out of the possibility I could use it again. It all depends on how certain things go in the process, but you always want to have something in your pocket, and I could use that."
So he might use. Or he might not. Got it?
Any tagged player has until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with their team. This is what happened with Justin Houston last year. He was tagged earlier in the year and then the Chiefs reached a long-term deal with him on July 15.
There are really just two legit options for the Chiefs and the franchise tag. I included Jaye Howard because folks often ask about him. Let's see where we're at here. Here are all the official franchise tag numbers.
Safety Eric Berry
Franchise tag: $10.8 million
Transition tag: $9.1 million
Dorsey said last week the two sides have talked. It was reported that there hasn't been any significant progress as of last week but most seem to agree that Berry is likely to be a Chief next year. It's fair to say at this point that it would be an upset if he wasn't a Chief next year, however that happens.
He should be the priority because he's a lifetime Chief. He's a great player at a position that the Chiefs need with two others - Tyvon Branch and Husain Abdullah - hitting free agency. Use the tag here as it was intended - as a bridge to a long-term deal. You tag a guy like Sean Smith to keep him for one more year; you tag Berry to create more time to secure him long-term.
The ideal scenario here is that the Chiefs strike a long-term deal with Berry before Tuesday's deadline, leaving the tag open for Smith. We've seen a #DorseyBomb before with the Dwayne Bowe signing / Dustin Colquitt signing / Branden Albert franchise tag at the last minute a few years ago. Can we see another?
Prediction: Berry signs a long-term contract on Tuesday. I'm feeling bold today.
Cornerback Sean Smith
Franchise tag: $13.9 million
Transition tag: $11.9 million
Smith, who is reportedly looking for $8-10 million per year in a new contract, is in his prime right now which is why it is so appealing to tag him. The Chiefs defense was very good last year with Smith ... and they were very bad without him. The Chiefs are close. There are a few position where a downgrade could seriously hurt the team. Cornerback is one of those positions.
I'm more interested in signing Berry long-term than Smith, which is why I have Berry as my top tag priority. However, Smith is a close second. It's highly unlikely the Chiefs are going to the market and finding a corner as good as Smith to sign a contract as team friendly as the one he signed three years ago.
The KC Star's Terez Paylor has made the argument that the transition tag may be the way to go here. The transition tag is a little cheaper and different in that other teams can still offer Smith a contract and the Chiefs have the chance to match. However, the Chiefs get no compensation in return if they choose to match. Considering the difference between the two is just $2 million, I don't really see the point in using it because he's too important to risk it all over $2 million. Either you want him or you don't.
Prediction: Sean Smith receives the franchise tag on Tuesday. I'm sure he would hate this but it just makes too much sense to me - if Berry's deal gets done.
Defensive lineman Jaye Howard
Franchise tag: $13.6 million / $15.7 million
Transition tag: $12.7 million / $10.9 million
The lower tag amount is for defensive tackles while the higher one is defensive ends. I'm not sure which one Howard is classified under. Either way, the tag is not realistic for him if it means that Smith and / or Berry are not protected (unless we get the craziest #DorseyBomb ever and they sign Berry AND Smith today). It's been reported he is looking for $8-9 million per year.
Prediction: Jaye Howard hits the open market on March 9.