EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As of Tuesday morning, the NFL's 32 teams can begin using the franchise and transition tags in their efforts to keep some of their top players from reaching free agency.
On Monday, ESPN NFL Nation columnist Kevin Seifert offered a thorough rundown of how the tag system works. It's a good read and can answer all of your questions about what the respective tags mean and how teams go about deciding to use them.
From a Los Angeles Rams perspective, the tag hasn't been a common tool for keeping their own. In fact, the Rams have not used either tag since putting the franchise tag on safety Oshiomogho Atogwe in 2009. Part of that is because they've managed to sign their key players -- guys such as ends Robert Quinn and Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis -- to long-term deals before they hit the open market.
The other piece of the equation is that the Rams simply haven't had a lot of players worthy of being paid among the top five or 10 players in the league at their respective positions.
So, will the Rams use a tag this year? Signs point to the answer to that question being no, especially in the case of the more costly franchise tag. If the Rams are to use a tag, it would most likely be used to retain one of their top cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins or Trumaine Johnson. But the projected price of such a one-year deal for a cornerback is a hefty $14.8 million and could be closer to $15 million when it's all said and done.
While Johnson and Jenkins played well in 2015, that's quite a price to ensure they keep one of them. The transition tag might be more of a possibility, though it doesn't come with the same protection as the franchise tag in terms of compensation. It wouldn't cost as much though it would still be a pricey proposition.
Given the rising number of the salary cap, teams are now more likely to get players signed to long-term deals and that's what the Rams would prefer to do with Jenkins and/or Johnson. So while we can never say never when it comes to the Rams doing anything, including using a tag to keep a player, the smart money says they'll decline to use it for the seventh straight year.
A roundup of Monday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... We began the morning with a look at why the Rams could keep tight end Jared Cook and why they might not. ... The Ram-blings started with a glimpse at how Robert Griffin III might be a fit for the Rams. ... The numbers show a better run game but not much else in the way of improvement for the Rams offense in 2015.
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