When is the last time the Detroit Lions used the franchise tag?

Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images
Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images /

The NFL’s 2022 franchise and transition tag window opens on Tuesday, so when is the last time the Detroit Lions used a tag?

With the start of the new league year and free agency roughly a month away, the NFL’s franchise and transition tag window opens on Tuesday, Feb. 22. Teams can place a tag on a player, at times in order to buy extra time to work out a multi-year deal, but players do play on the one-year fully guaranteed franchise tag sometimes.

Among the Detroit Lions crop of 2022 free agents, only two stand out as possible franchise tag candidates–safety Tracy Walker and defensive end Charles Harris.

According to Spotrac, the projected 2022 franchise tag value for safeties is $13 million. For defensive ends the franchise tag will cost $17.5 million (labeling Harris as a linebacker would bump the franchise tag up to $18.5 million). Based on contract projections from Pro Football Focus (and anywhere else), those numbers exceed what either are in line to command on the market.

So it’s unlikely the Lions will use a franchise (or transition) tag on anyone this year. Which begs a question…

When is the last the time the Detroit Lions used the franchise tag?

The Lions notably did not use the franchise tag on wide receiver Kenny Golladay last offseason, which now looks like a wise move at least in the short term. They have actually only used the franchise tag four times ever. Here’s the list, via the Detroit Free Press.

Offensive tackle Jeff Backus-2006
Defensive tackle Cory Redding-2007
Defensive end Cliff Avril-2012
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah-2018

Backus and Redding signed multi-year deals to stay with the Lions. Avril played on the tag, then left the following year for the Seattle Seahawks (where he won a Super Bowl).

Ansah was coming of a 12-sack season in 2017, but the Lions’ hesitancy to commit a big multi-year deal to him was well-founded. He had been up-and-down in years recent to that (two sacks in 2016–13 games; 14.5 sacks in 2015), and they wanted to see him repeat.

Naturally, Ansah was limited to seven games by shoulder issues in 2018 and registered just four sacks. He played 11 games for the Seahawks in 2019 then two for the 49ers in 2020, and he was out of the league in 2021. The No. 5 pick in the 2013 draft will stand as the last time the Lions used the franchise tag for at least one more year.

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