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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Will Bucs kicker Connor Barth sign franchise tender?



The Bucs designated free-agent kicker Connor Barth their franchise player earlier this month, placing a tag on him that effectively prevents him from testing the market in a meaningful way. Players who receive the franchise tag cannot change teams unless their suitor is willing to yield two first round picks, which obviously ain't happening here.

Still, we thought we'd update you on what to expect throughout this process.

Barth is left in a situation where he must either accept the $2.65 million for 2012 by signing the tender, hope the Bucs are willing to negotiate a long-term deal (his preference), or play hard ball and hold out. Let's be clear about one thing: Barth will almost certainly sign the franchise tender. Those aren't his words, but common sense tells us that this will happen if a deal isn't reached first. Franchise players have until July 15 to sign before the offer is withdrawn, but they are not permitted to sign with another club after that date.

Holdouts are very real possibilities for franchise players. In the case of franchise tagees like Drew Brees and Matt Forte, for example, they could withhold their services throughout the offseason and, perhaps, into the preseason and regular season. Such actions would be likely to force the team's hand because those players are seen as irreplaceable.

Unfortunately for Barth, kickers are not.

But it would not be surprising to see Barth stay away from One Buc Place during this offseason, including OTAs and minicamps, in hopes of reaching a deal. But because Barth is a specialist, his absence likely won't be seen as a major loss while the team is installing its new offensive and defensive systems this offseason, thereby reducing Barth's leverage.

However it all unfolds, the good news is that the Bucs are nearly assured of having Barth on their roster this fall, presumably picking up where he left off in 2011, when he was the NFL's most accurate kicker.

[Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 4:46pm]


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