Don't expect Bucs to use franchise or transition tag this year
Today is the first day NFL teams can apply the franchise or transition tag to one of their players set to hit free agency, but don't expect the Bucs to use either designation this year.
Generally, that is a good thing. A club applying the franchise tag guarantees a player the average salary of the top five players at their position. The transition tag is the average salary of the top 10 players at any given position. It's extremely costly and can wreak havoc with the salary cap.
The fact that the Bucs don't have a free agent to franchise can be good or bad, depending on your view point.
Had quarterback Josh Freeman reached his potential and posted good numbers in 2013, instead of going 0-3, completing less than 50 percent of his passes and forcing the club to release him, the Bucs may well have been forced to use the franchise or transition tag on their 2009 first round pick since he would be eligible for free agency. In the meantime, a long-term agreement could've been hammered out in the off-season.
But with Freeman gone, the Bucs list of free agents is headed by only marginal starters who've reached the end of their contract, players such as strong side linebacker Dekoda Watson, fullback Erik Lorig and special teams standouts Adam Hayward and Andrew Economos.
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas, 26, finished the season on injured reserve.
Next season could be a different story, particularly if the Bucs are unable to reach a long-term deal with All Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who is the final year of his rookie contract.
Incidentally, the last Bucs player to receive the franchise tag was place-kicker Connor Barth.