Around the NFC West: Good to be back

Good morning. I missed you while away last week, but it's looking like you're about all I missed. It was generally a slow week in most NFC West outposts.

The St. Louis Rams, without a defensive coordinator during Jeff Fisher's first season as head coach, hired the Detroit Lions' Tim Walton to do the job. Coordinator hires tend to be big news, but this one lacked drama in the end. The Rams, after meeting with big names such as Rob Ryan and Dick Jauron, hired Walton in pursuit of the status quo. They knew his familiarity with their scheme would make it easier to pick up where they left off last season, but with more manpower.

Around the NFC West: Feb. 18, 2013

This week carries additional promise.

The NFL scouting combine begins Wednesday. Kevin Seifert, Bill Williamson and Paul Kuharsky will be representing our blog network at the combine this year.

Also this week, the NFL window for naming franchise players opens. Teams can begin using the franchise tag Monday, but there's no rush. The window for naming franchise players remains open through March 4. Free agency begins March 12.

NFC West teams named two franchise players last offseason. Arizona and San Francisco both waited until March 2 before using the designation. The Cardinals' franchise player, Calais Campbell, agreed to terms on a five-year contract about three months later, on May 10. The 49ers' franchise player, Dashon Goldson, signed the one-year franchise offer on July 26, returning him to the pool of franchise candidates this offseason.

Teams named 21 franchise players last year, an NFL record. Teams used six of those 21 tags to prevent punters and kickers from reaching the market as unrestricted free agents. Three more tags went for safeties. Another went for a tight end.

Then as now, the relatively affordable franchise offers associated with non-premium positions can make franchise tags appealing from teams' perspectives.

We'll take a closer look at NFC West specifics relating to the tag in a bit.