IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys are one of just eight teams to use the franchise tag this season, down from 21 teams in 2012 and 13 in 2011.
Anthony Spencer was the only player tagged for a second consecutive season, earning 120 percent of his 2012 tender as a linebacker. He was also one of five defensive players who got tagged and one of four players who are – or will be – defensive linemen. Among that group are defensive end Michael Johnson and defensive tackles Henry Melton and Randy Starks, all of whom could have been attractive targets for the Cowboys in free agency.
Of the numerous teams using the franchise tag in 2012, none of them used one on a defensive tackle.
The cost to tag a defensive tackle only increased by six percent from 2012 to 2013, as opposed to positions like linebacker, which went up nine percent from the previous season, and wide receiver, which increased by 12 percent.
It makes sense why more teams used the franchise tag in 2012, as it's more expensive to franchise players across the board this year. That's a complete turnaround from the 2012 season, when franchising a player cost less than the year prior at every position.
It only cost $9.4 million to give the franchise tag to a wide receiver in 2012, compared to $11.4 million in 2011 and $10.5 million in 2013. So that could partially explain why Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson and Wes Welker were all given the tag in 2012 and no receiver got the tag this year. [embedded_ad]
Many teams avoided the franchise tag by signing their prized free agents to long-term extensions, including Bowe and Joe Flacco. Quarterback and wide receiver are two of the four costliest franchise tags among all positions.