There's news for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming out of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis…it just doesn't happen to be related specifically to the draft.
On Friday, the Buccaneers confirmed that they would not be using their available franchise or transition tag prior to free agency this year. General Manager Mark Dominik said that decision was reached after a thorough examination of the team and its own group of pending unrestricted free agents.
"With numerous internal discussions and after looking at our team, we will not be using our franchise or transition tag this year for any of our free agents," said Dominik.
NFL teams can use a franchise or transition tag on one pending free agent, in the process submitting a one-year tender offer that is based on a formula using the top salaries at the player's position. The player can accept that offer at any time or the player and team can continue to negotiate a separate deal. If the original team uses an "exclusive" franchise tag, the player cannot negotiate with any other club; if the original team uses a "non-exclusive" tag, which carries a somewhat lower tender offer, the player can negotiate with other teams but the original team can match any offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
The Buccaneers have 10 pending unrestricted free agents, any one of whom could have received the tag. Different positions carry different tender offers, and in recent years it has become common for teams to use franchise tags on such positions as punter, kicker, safety and tight end, where the tenders are lower. Last year, the Buccaneers used their franchise tag on kicker Connor Barth, who later signed a long-term deal with the team.
Tampa Bay's 10 pending unrestricted free agents are: CB Ronde Barber, CB E.J. Biggers, DE Michael Bennett, TE Dallas Clark, LS Andrew Economos, CB Brandon McDonald, DT Roy Miller, WR Roscoe Parrish, WR Sammie Stroughter, T Jeremy Trueblood. Prior to the start of free agency on March 12, the Buccaneers can continue to negotiate deals with any of their pending free agents, before they are free to talk to other teams.
Last year, a record 21 teams used their franchise tag option, including the Buccaneers (use of transition tags has become very rare). So far in 2013, no team has announced the use of a franchise tag, but that option remains open to all clubs through March 4.