With the NFL deadline for naming franchise players passing at 4 p.m. ET Monday, we await official word from the league as to whether any NFC West players received the designation.
This can be a nerve-racking time for teams and fans hoping to keep favorite players.
Using the franchise tag almost always keeps a player from leaving in free agency. Teams must balance those concerns with a player's actual value. This year, deciding against using the tag could allow good-not-great NFC West players such as Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker and Danny Amendola to reach the market and sign elsewhere.
It's tough losing key players, but for some perspective, let's revisit the list of 2012 NFC West unrestricted free agents to change teams during the UFA signing period last offseason:
St. Louis Rams (6): receiver Brandon Lloyd, linebacker Chris Chamberlain, punter Donnie Jones, guard Jacob Bell, linebacker Bryan Kehl and defensive tackle Gary Gibson. Lloyd was a better fit in New England than he would have been with St. Louis. He caught 74 passes for 911 yards and four touchdowns with the Patriots, starting more than 11 games in a season for the first time since 2006. The Rams did not miss any of the other UFAs signing elsewhere.
San Francisco 49ers (6): receiver Josh Morgan, guard Adam Snyder, linebacker Blake Costanzo, safety Reggie Smith, safety Madieu Williams and guard Chilo Rachal. The 49ers could have used Costanzo in particular on special teams. Overall, though, they could live with losing these players.
Seattle Seahawks (5): tight end John Carlson, safety Atari Bigby, quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove and linebacker David Hawthorne. Keeping Carlson would have helped the offense. However, the Vikings overpaid for him, and Carlson suffered an injury that prevented Minnesota from getting an immediate return on its investment.
Arizona Cardinals (3): cornerback Richard Marshall, safety Sean Considine, guard Deuce Lutui. The Cardinals ideally would have held onto Marshall, but they signed William Gay for much less and seemed to get by fine with him. Their defense improved. Gay was subsequently released.
Note: UFAs include only veteran players whose contracts expired. Released players are not UFAs.