The way things were going earlier in the week, I thought there would be a slew of franchised players this year. But when the 4 p.m. deadline for tagging players hit, only six were slapped with the franchise tag. No one had the transition tag on them.
Four were defensive tackles: Green Bay's Ryan Pickett, San Fran's Aubreyo Franklin, New England's Vince Wilfork, and Oakland's Richard Seymour.
The other two were kickers: Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed and Seattle's Olindo Mare.
There was one more planned, but Pittsburgh DT Casey Hampton came to an agreement on a three-year contract before the deadline.
As it turned out, the six marked the least number of franchise tags given out since 2006, when only three teams used the hammer. The numbers over the last two years reached double-digits, but owners this year obviously felt talking contract in an emotionally unheated climate was a better move as an uncapped season looms.
Meanwhile, teams are in the process of preparing tenders for slews of restricted free agents, many of whom will be forced to sign the one-year deals as organizations avoid long-term contract talks. With a lockout probable for 2011, no need to tie up a lot of money now. Plus, no signing bonuses, which saves ownership loads and puts extra heat on the players to make the squad. No roster spot, no money.
Same deal with the franchise tags.