2015 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates: NFC West

The deadline for assigning a franchise or transition tag on a 2015 free-agent-to-be is less than a month away, and we’re in the process of taking a look at players who are candidates to be tagged this year. Last week, we examined all four AFC divisions, covering the East, North, South, and West. This week, we’ve shifted our focus to the NFC — we kicked things off on Tuesday with the East, tackled the North on Wednesday, and looked at the South on Friday. Today, we’ll turn to the West, breaking down the possible franchise and transition tag candidates for the Cardinals, Niners, Seahawks, and Rams:

Arizona Cardinals:

  • Candidates: Antonio Cromartie
  • Odds of being used: Unlikely
  • A handful of Cardinals regulars on the defensive side of the ball are eligible for free agency next month, including defensive tackle Dan Williams, and linebackers Sam Acho and Larry Foote. While I don’t expect all of them to bolt, it’ll be interesting to see if any follow former defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to New York, where he’ll coach the Jets. Cromartie is probably the most noteworthy free-agent-to-be on the roster, but even though he had a better year in 2014 than he did in 2013, it’s hard to imagine the cornerback’s $4MM salary jumping up to an eight-digit figure via the franchise tag.

San Francisco 49ers:

  • Candidates: Mike Iupati
  • Odds of being used: Unlikely
  • The 49ers have multiple players who may have been strong candidates to be tagged in past seasons, such as wide receiver Michael Crabtree and running back Frank Gore. Cornerbacks like Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox were also solid for San Francisco in 2014. But Iupati is the only player I can imagine the Niners tagging, and even then it’s an extreme long shot. Franchise tags for offensive lineman aren’t split up by position, so the club would have to pay Iupati, a guard, like a left tackle to tag him, which isn’t realistic — especially when the team has done such a good job building depth on its line.

Seattle Seahawks:

  • Candidates: Byron Maxwell
  • Odds of being used: Unlikely
  • A recent report suggested that Maxwell may be seeking $12-13MM per year on his next deal, and if the Seahawks felt like he could realistically land that sort of contract, the team would have to strongly consider using a tag. However, that figure seems awfully high for a cornerback who is effective, but not in the same class as teammate Richard Sherman. In any case, Seattle doesn’t have a ton of cap flexibility, and still needs to get something done with Russell Wilson as he heads into a contract year. Retaining Maxwell may be a luxury that the team can’t afford, especially at a franchise salary.

St. Louis Rams:

  • Candidates: None
  • Odds of being used: Extremely unlikely
  • Wide receiver Kenny Britt, right tackle Joe Barksdale, and quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Austin Davis are among the notable players who are nearing free agency. None are worth more than fleeting consideration for a franchise or transition tag though.
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