If you have a player worth franchising, the franchise tag can keep that player around at the cost of an enormous number of dollars and no long-term commitment.
The last time the Falcons used the franchise tag was way back in 2012 to keep Brent Grimes around, which didn’t wind up going particularly well for either party. Before that, they used it a couple of times early in Thomas Dimitroff’s tenure, but in general, this hasn’t been something the Falcons have relied heavily on to get things done. With no huge free agents coming up, that’s unlikely to change this year.
When you review the team’s list of free agents, you’ll quickly understand why. The biggest names here are solid starters like Jacob Tamme, aging stars like Dwight Freeney, or restricted free agents like Taylor Gabriel and Ricardo Allen. The man most likely to receive a franchise tag would be fullback Patrick DiMarco, because he’s an #elite player at his position, but it would require the Falcons to sink in $11 million-plus because fullbacks are lumped in with running backs. They’re not gonna do that.
With their (relatively) limited funds, expect the Falcons to be judicious about who they’re re-signing, prioritizing the couple of productive, starting-caliber players among these free agents and moving on to key backups and special teamers. They’re going to look to make a couple of splashes, however small, in free agency as they re-build these lines, and they’ll need some cash for it. Spending $10 million or more on a single position for a single year just isn’t in the cards.
Atlanta’s got until March 1 to use the tag, but let’s not keep any suspense going: It’s not happening. Free agency is, thankfully, just around the corner.