There has been optimism -- even expressed by Justin Tucker himself -- that a long-term deal will get completed between the Baltimore Ravens and the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history by Friday's deadline.
It's just a matter of the two sides agreeing on the right price. Will the Ravens make Tucker the highest-paid kicker in the league, or is Tucker willing to take something less?
New England's Stephen Gostkowski set the standard for kickers at this time last year, when he reached a four-year, $17.2 million extension on the July 15 deadline for franchise players. His $10.1 million in guaranteed money and $4.3 million per year average top all kickers.
If Tucker and the Ravens are unable to strike a deal by 4 p.m. ET Friday, he will play under the tag for the 2016 season. Tucker, one of seven players who got the franchise tag this offseason, would earn $4.572 million this season.
The general thinking is Tucker will receive a deal that averages over $4 million per season. But he has a solid argument for becoming the richest kicker in the league:
Tucker's career 87.8 percent success rate on field goals ranks second to only Dallas' Dan Bailey (90.6 percent) in NFL history
He became the fastest kicker in NFL history to make 100 field goals
Tucker's 130 field goals and 529 points since entering the league in 2012 rank only behind Gostkowski
His 123 touchbacks the last two seasons are the third-most in the NFL
Tucker was one of six kickers to make all of the longer extra points last season
So, why wouldn't the Ravens want to get a long-term deal wrapped up with a productive kicker like Tucker this week? Baltimore can easily absorb Tucker's franchise tag number because the team has nearly $13 million in cap space. The Ravens also like using the tag because it puts more pressure on the player to perform because it's just a one-year deal.
Unlike the situation between Denver and Von Miller, there has been no animosity with Baltimore and Tucker. He reported to voluntary offseason workouts, which is extremely rare for players who've received the tag.
“Like I’ve said before, I’m optimistic that something will get done," Tucker told The Baltimore Sun a month ago. "It’s a matter of when, not if.”
The Ravens and Tucker have been talking about a new deal for nearly a year and a half. But Baltimore has a proven track record of getting deals done with its franchise players. The previous four players tagged by Baltimore -- cornerback Chris McAlister, linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and running back Ray Rice -- all ended up signing long-term deals after receiving the tag.
It took two years of getting tagged for McAlister and Suggs before getting a long-term contract with Baltimore. It's possible the Ravens will take a similar route with Tucker. He would earn roughly $5.4 million in 2017 if tagged again, which would be an expensive number for a kicker but not a daunting one.
As Tucker put it, there's little concern that a deal will eventually get done. It's just a question of whether it will be Friday or next season.