As expected — and is prudent — the Seattle Seahawks did not use their franchise tag on Sheldon Richardson.
Or anyone else.
Tuesday’s NFL deadline for teams to use their one franchise- and one transition-tag designation per year passed with Seattle not using either of theirs — as usual.
The Seahawks have not used a tag since 2010, when kicker Olindo Mare got the franchise tag in the first months of Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider running the team.
Schneider said Friday at the NFL scouting combine the Seahawks met again last week in Indianapolis with the agents for Richardson, the 27-year-old defensive tackle Seattle got in September from the New York Jets in a trade for wide receiver Jermaine Kearse and a second-round choice in April’s draft. The Seahawks have been talking to Richardson and his representatives since December about a contract extension.
“Shoot, three-technique, he can play several positions. He’s a talented guy,” Schneider said last week.
“The guy’s a competitor. Yeah, he affects things. … We’d love to re-sign him.”
An extension would be more economical than the franchise tag that would have guaranteed Richardson played for the Seahawks in 2018 instead of leaving in free agency, but at a cost of $13,939,000. That is far too rich for a team that currently has about $12.6 million in salary-cap space for this year, according to overthecap.com, pending cost-saving moves such as cutting cornerback Jeremy Lane ($4.75 million cap charge this year).
Richardson is poised to become a free agent when the market opens March 14.
Before that, the Seahawks will continue to seek a multiyear deal that would keep Richardson on their thinning defensive line at a more cap-friendly cost for this year than the franchise tag, perhaps closer to the $8 million he cost in 2017. Such a deal would include up-front guarantees that would have to please Richardson enough for him to pass on his first chance at unrestricted free agency.
The franchise tag is largely based on the average of the top-five salaries at the position. There are two types: Exclusive, which means that player can only play for the team that tagged him, and non-exclusive. For a non-exclusive franchise tag, other teams that might try to sign franchise-tag players would owe the team that tagged the player two first-round draft picks.
The transition tag costs less, the average of the top-10 salaries at each position. But that route leaves open the possibility of a team getting no compensation should the player sign with another team that offers more than the transition-tag number. That’s why the transition tag is rare in the NFL.
Jimmy Graham remained on track to leave Seattle in free agency next week. No one expected the Seahawks to use their tag on the tight end who had 10 touchdown catches but little else on the rest of the field last season, not at a cost of close to $15 million factoring in all of Graham’s carry-over bonuses that would have factored in such a move.
League-wide, tag designation was rare this year. Only six players in the NFL got them. Franchise tags went to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry, Detroit Lions defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, Los Angeles Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller got the transition tag.