The Detroit Lions have a lot of work to do but one of the strategies they are not expected to use this year is the franchise tag. It was a relatively minor point at the end of one of beat writer Chris McCosky’s recent articles, but it says a lot about what the Lions will do in the offseason:
Mayhew said he doesn’t expect to use the franchise tag this offseason. That was somewhat surprising since it was presumed that might be an option with safety Louis Delmas . Who is coming off two injury-plagued seasons and is an unrestricted free agent. Mayhew would not discuss specific free agents.
The Lions used the franchise tag a year ago when they were unable to come to an agreement with Cliff Avril on a long term deal. It’s not the route either side wanted but the Lions decided Avril was a player they needed to retain no matter what.
By expressing his expectation that they will not use the franchise tag this offseason, Mayhew is saying that they have no impending free agents that they are as desperate to keep as they were with Avril a year ago.
Of course this does not mean there aren’t free-agents-to-be that they wouldn’t like to keep, it just means there aren’t any that they value to the level required by the franchise tag.
In other words, the Lions would rather risk losing Louis Delmas via free agency than paying him the tentative franchise tag salary of $6.798 million due to a safety. The same goes for Chris Houston at $10.668 million and Cliff Avril at about $12.7 million.
The Lions have a lot to do and not necessarily a lot of money to do it. Declining to use the franchise tag risks adding one more need to the list but gives them maximum flexibility to address as many needs as possible.