Why the Oakland Raiders Should Avoid Using the Franchise Tag

If the Oakland Raiders decide to use the franchise tag, they can prevent either left tackle Jared Veldheer or defensive end Lamarr Houston from hitting the market on March 11. However, there is a price to pay for preventing a player from legitimately shopping their services to the other 31 teams.

The Raiders have to tender a one-year contract to Veldheer worth approximately $11 million or a one-year contract to Houston at nearly $13 million by Monday, March 3—about a week before the start of free agency. No one expects Veldheer and Houston to get that much on the open market, making the use of the tag highly questionable in both cases.

For years, the Raiders overpaid to keep free agents, only to mortgage the future by overspending. Although keeping Houston and Veldheer should be a priority, it’s important that general manager Reggie McKenzie avoid what got the team into the mess he just spent two years cleaning up.

Some would argue that the Raiders mortgaged the future in the past, but that overspending to retain a player on the franchise tag might make sense because it’s only one year and doesn’t push costs into the future. The Raiders have plenty of salary cap space, so it wouldn't hurt.  

That’s simply not true because cap space rolls over into future years. Every dollar overspent in 2014 is a dollar the Raiders don’t have to sign other players in 2014, or future years. This has always been true, but it wasn’t always as simple to carryover cap space each year.

Houston’s tag value is an incredibly high dollar amount for an average pass-rusher, but Veldheer’s is close enough that it merits debate. By giving one the tag, the Raiders wouldn’t risk losing one of their top players in free agency.


Precedent is Set

Over the last five years, NFL teams have only tagged two offensive linemen. Ryan Clady ...

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