The Ravens are likely to use the franchise tag on Justin Tucker if they can’t reach a new deal with him soon, writes Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. Teams can begin assigning the franchise or transition tag to their own players as of today, though most clubs planning on using a tag will likely wait until closer to the March 1st deadline.
[RELATED: 2016 franchise tag candidates]
“He’s a great candidate for this year and next year to be franchised if they can’t come to an agreement,” one industry source with knowledge of the Ravens’ salary cap situation said of Tucker.
“A long-term deal for him, he’s going to be paid as a top two or three kicker, which means he’s going to be close to $20MM, which is the [Stephen] Gostkowski money. Do you want to give him $20MM or do you want to just give him the one-year franchise tag and see how it goes? It’s the obvious move, and history has shown it. There is no other viable candidate and he’s the most valuable commodity.”
For his career, Tucker has connected on 130 of 148 field-goal attempts (87.8%), with 12 of those 18 overall misses coming from 50 yards or longer. He has also nailed an eye-popping 10 game-winning field goals, including three in 2015.
The franchise salary for Tucker will depend on where exactly the salary cap lands, but it will be by far the least expensive of any position besides punter. Based on a $154MM cap, kickers and punters would be in line for a 2016 salary of $4.534MM on the non-exclusive franchise tag. Considering GM Ozzie Newsome has previously said he’s willing to use the tag to keep Tucker in the mix, it’s no surprise that the team appears to be preparing for that possibility as the franchise window opens.
I identified Tucker as one of the NFL’s stronger possibilities for a franchise tag in my Monday look at the candidates. If the Ravens can lock up their kicker to a longer-term deal prior to March 1, offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele could also be a candidate to be tagged, though he’s viewed as more of a long shot.
Zach Links contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.