With the Bengals likely to utilize the franchise tag this offseason on one of their free agents, here is a list of the tentative tag numbers and which Bengals could see the tag applied:
|POSITION||FRANCHISE TAG COST||POTENTIAL BENGAL|
|Defensive End||$10.984||Michael Johnson|
|Wide Receiver||$10.357||Andrew Hawkins|
|Offensive Lineman||$9.660||Andre Smith|
|Kicker/Punter||$2.926||Mike Nugent, Josh Brown, Kevin Huber|
We’re not completely ruling out Nugent, Hawkins, Clements, Jones, or Brown, getting the tag, but it’s highly unlikely the tag is used on anyone not named Andre Smith or Michael Johnson. Smith’s recent arrest makes this situation even more fluid, as it was believed previously that the team was close to agreeing to a long-term deal with Smith, but it’s unknown if the team will use his arrest as leverage to negotiate a cheaper deal.
There’s only about a $2 million difference between tagging Johnson or Smith, but a franchise tackle is much harder to replace than a quality defensive end who benefited from having an All-Pro in Geno Atkins drawing frequent double-teams.
If there was a dark-horse candidate for the tag, it would be punter Kevin Huber, who finished this season ranked third in the NFL in punts inside the 2- yard line.
The 2013 salary cap is tentatively slated to be around $121 million. Cincinnati has the most projected cap space at $55.1 million.