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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Decline to Use Franchise Tag

The deadline to apply a franchise tag to a pending free agent passed on Tuesday afternoon and for the first time in four years the Buccaneers did not make use of that option


For the first time in four years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not make use of their franchise tag option.

The deadline for applying a franchise or transition tag to a pending free agent passed at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday without the Buccaneers making a move. The team has 23 players who are set to become unrestricted free agents on Wednesday, March 15, though one of them – QB Tom Brady – has announced his retirement. That list of potential UFAs includes eight players on defense who logged at least 400 snaps last season, including cornerback Jamel Dean and inside linebacker Lavonte David.

The Buccaneers had made use of the franchise tag in each of the last three offseasons, first on edge rusher Shaquil Barrett in 2020 and then on wide receiver Chris Godwin in both 2021 and 2022. In both cases, the tagged player eventually signed a long-term contract with the team. The Bucs had never before used the franchise tag in three consecutive years.

Tuesday's deadline closed a two-week window during which NFL teams could apply a franchise or transition tag to a player, a period that began on February 21. Six teams chose to do so, including the Baltimore Ravens with quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Las Vegas Raiders with running back Josh Jacobs.

The Buccaneers have utilized a franchise tag seven times since the option was introduced in the original CBA in 1993. The team made use of the tag that first season on standout left tackle Paul Gruber, who responded with a five-game holdout but eventually signed a new long-term deal with the team. The Bucs also used the tag in 1999 on defensive end Chidi Ahanotu, in 2009 on wide receiver Antonio Bryant and in 2012 on kicker Connor Barth.

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