The deadline for teams to franchise free agents came and went on Monday with a huge crop of players receiving the tag. In total, 21 players were extended the one-year guaranteed offer to protect their rights.
It's been noted before just how in-name-only the franchise designation really is, but that rings especially true on this day. In reality, the tag is a negotiating tool, a bargaining chip, not a declaration of "This is our guy. We're building around him."
It's not even necessarily an assertion that the player is one of the top five at his position, but instead a means to gain leverage in contract talks so that a player isn't overpaid when all is said and done. There are other ways teams can use the designation to their advantage as well.
So, these are the ways the Cowboys will justify guaranteeing Anthony Spencer $8.8 million in 2012 despite his 21.5 career sacks. They are the same reasons Washington can explain a $5.4 million price tag for tight end Fred Davis, who has all of 131 catches in four seasons.
This year there were five kickers receiving the franchise tag and one punter. Of the 21 players, only three or four could reasonably be considered "franchise players" - definitely Drew Brees, Wes Welker (maybe), Ray Rice (maybe) and Dwayne Bowe (maybe).
Here is a list of all the players who have received the franchise tag in 2012:
Arizona Cardinals, DE Calais Campbell, $10.6 million
Atlanta Falcons, CB Brent Grimes, $10.6 million
Baltimore Ravens, RB Ray Rice, $7.7 million
Chicago Bears, RB Matt Forte, $7.7 million
Cincinnati Bengals, K Matt Nugent, $2.6 million
Cleveland Browns, K Phil Dawson, $3.8 million
Dallas Cowboys, LB Anthony Spencer, $8.8 millionDenver Broncos, K Matt Prater, $2.6 million
Detroit Lions, DE Cliff Avril, $10.6 million
Indianapolis Colts, DE Robert Mathis, $10.6 million
Jacksonville Jaguars, K Josh Scobee, $2.6 million
Kansas City Chiefs, WR Dwayne Bowe, $9.4 million
New England Patriots, WR Wes Welker, $9.4 million
New Orleans Saints, QB Drew Brees, $16-17 million
New York Giants, P Steve Weatherford, $2.6 million
Oakland Raiders, S Tyvon Branch, $6.2 million
Philadelphia Eagles, WR DeSean Jackson, $9.4 million
San Francisco 49ers, S Dashon Goldson, $6.2 million
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, K Connor Barth, $2.6 million
Tennessee Titans, S Michael Griffin, $6.2 million
Washington Redskins, TE Fred Davis, $5.4 million