Report: Packers will franchise Pickett

Initially, I didn’t believe that any NFC North player merited a franchise or transition tag. But if Green Bay franchises defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, as the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports, then I wonder if it could be the first of a two-step move.

Two years ago, the Packers used their franchise tag on defensive tackle Corey Williams, retaining his rights as the free agent market began. Ultimately, they traded Williams to Cleveland for a second-round draft pick.

As of Monday, the Packers and Pickett weren’t close to a long-term contract agreement. You wonder if the Packers intend to commit a significant amount of money to Pickett, who turns 31 in October, when 2009 first-round draft choice B.J. Raji essentially plays the same position in the 3-4 scheme. I suppose either player could move to defensive end, but tackle is the ideal spot for both players.

The franchise number for defensive tackles is $7.003 million. I don’t have any inside knowledge on this issue, but it makes some sense if the Packers use the tag as a tool to get a return on Pickett’s eventual departure. The deadline for applying franchise and transition tags is Thursday. As always, stay tuned.