Morning Stripes: On tags and the combine

Monday kicked off a busy two weeks in the NFL as the period for naming franchise and transition tag players began.

It also marked the unofficial start to the combine, with reporters and bloggers starting to write about what to expect from the 32 teams when players arrive in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

We wrote about both events on ESPN.com's Bengals blog Monday, expanding on the likelihood Cincinnati uses a franchise tag this year, and a look at which types of running back prospects the Bengals may want to explore at the combine later this week. When it comes to the franchise tag, there isn't a very strong chance the Bengals use it this year after using it the last two seasons. Kicker Mike Nugent returned for a two-year deal after his tagging in 2012, but will defensive end Michael Johnson be back this fall after his own tagging in 2013? It's doubtful.

With respect to the types of running backs the Bengals might explore when the combine begins, think about physical runners. Those who can catch passes out of the backfield won't hurt, either. But as mentioned in the link above, on the totem pole of importance in this mostly depth-setting draft, the running back position ranks rather low. There are other needs in the defensive secondary and on the lines that could take precedent. Then there is the whole quarterback question: Should the Bengals take one to add to the depth behind Andy Dalton should he disappoint at some point during this, his final contract year?

Franchise tags and the combine have been written about by others so far this week, as well. This Tuesday's Morning Stripes are all about franchise tags and the combine:

  • Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Joe Reedy also looked at the Bengals' franchise tag situation and doubted the Bengals actually use the tag on any of their unrestricted free agents. While he felt offensive tackle Anthony Collins and defensive back Taylor Mays were tag possibilities, he didn't believe either would end up happening.

  • Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson had this lengthy feature about the value of the combine. Bengals receiver and restricted free agent Andrew Hawkins was one of those who wasn't invited to the combine the year he was eligible for the draft, and yet, through some additional hoops to jump through and obstacles to overcome, he has still had an NFL career. Aside from the ankle injury that ruined the first half of his 2013 season, Hawkins' career has arguably been a pretty good one, too. Still, even he understands the value of the combine and discusses why if it wasn't for the event, he might not be playing for an NFL team after all.

  • Also from the Enquirer is this from Paul Dehner Jr., who writes about how former Bengals receiver Jordan Shipley has started transitioning to life after football. He ended up retiring late last month after bouncing around a few teams following his 2012 release from the Bengals. The avid hunter's post-football plans have taken him to the Outdoor Channel, where he will fill in as an occasional host on hunting shows.