The SEC’s history with the NFL’s franchise tag
The NFL’s franchise tag celebrated its 10th anniversary this spring by tagging its 100th player.
That’s quite a feat for the, not always so venerable, designation in which a team essentially selects one vital player to deny from joining the free agent market by allotting a year to negotiate a long-term deal.
Former SEC players are no stranger to this contract-negotiating process. Of the 100 tags doled-out over the past decade, 17 belonged to players who spent their Saturdays in the SEC. That number jumps to 19* if we count Texas A&M alum Von Miller and ex-Missouri defensive end Justin Smith, who played when the Aggies and Tigers, respectively, were still in the Big 12.
For those curious, the ACC has 19 former players get slapped with a franchise tag, more than any other conference. Individually, the University of Texas has produced seven franchised-athletes garnering eight tags (the Cleveland Browns twice designated place-kicker Phil Dawson).
In the SEC, Georgia and Tennessee tie for the most alums to earn a tag with four each, followed by Auburn with three and Ole Miss and South Carolina with a pair each. Five programs have never had a former player tagged, including Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt.
Here’s a look back over the last 10 years at the SEC players that received a franchise tag from their respective NFL teams.
Cordy Glenn, Georgia – Buffalo Bills: Drafted in 2012 out of Georgia, the Bills’ starting left tackle inked his tender for $13.7 million.
Von Miller, Texas A&M – Denver Broncos*: After reportedly receiving a tag, Miller and the Broncos reached a last-minute accord that will pay the former Aggie linebacker $114.5 million over the next six years.
Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina – Chicago Bears: Former Gamecock Jeffery will be essentially playing a second-consecutive contract year in 2016 after accepting Chicago’s franchise tag and its $14.6 million payout.
Eric Berry, Tennessee – Kansas City Chiefs: Berry and the Chiefs failed to reach a long-term extension with Kansas City’s Pro Bowl safety, who sat out mini-camp. Instead, the Volunteer alum will haul in $10.8 million for the 2016 season.
Justin Houston, Georgia — Kansas City Chiefs: Kansas City has franchised more former SEC players than any other NFL team. Houston parlayed his franchise tag into a whopping six-year, $101 million extension. The result was Houston’s lowest sack total since his rookie year, dropping from an NFL-high 22.0 in 2014 to just 7.5 last year, granted in five fewer games.
Greg Hardy, Ole Miss — Carolina Panthers: Hardy wasted no time in signing his franchise tender worth $13.116 million. He lasted one game before landing on the commissioner’s exempt list for alleged domestic abuse. A year later Hardy inked a deal with Dallas for $11.3 million.
Dwayne Bowe, LSU – Kansas City Chiefs: Bowe used the $9.5 million franchise tender he signed to catch just 801 yards and three touchdowns for the Chiefs in 2012 — a dozen fewer scoring grabs than his league-leading 15 in 2010.
Peyton Manning, Tennessee – Indianapolis Colts: Manning’s time in Indianapolis began to unravel shortly after the Colts franchised the former Tennessee superstar. Indy eventually signed Manning to a five-year, $90 million contract, but declared him out for the season less than two months later due to his ailing neck, which required multiple surgeries. Before long, Andrew Luck was wearing blue and Manning was off to Denver with another five-year deal and $96 million under his belt. Once a Colt, always a Colt, Manning returned to Indianapolis in March for a celebration to retire his No. 18 jersey.
Richard Seymour, Georgia — Oakland Raiders: Seymour went to register 6.0 sacks, the third-most in his 12-year career, after signing his franchise tag in 2010 with Oakland worth $12.4 million.
Aubrayo Franklin, Tennessee – San Francisco 49ers: It took a lengthy holdout, but Franklin eventually signed his franchise tag tender for $7.003 million. The nose tackle tallied a career-high 38 tackles for the Niners that year, but eschewed San Francisco the following season for stints with New Orleans, San Diego and Indianapolis before leaving the league after the 2013 campaign.
Karlos Dansby, Auburn — Arizona Cardinals: Auburn alum Karlos Dansby has the lone distinction of being the only former SEC player to be franchised twice. Dansby made the most of his one-year, $9.7 million contract with the Cardinals, capping off the 2009 season recovering an Aaron Rodgers-fumble for the game-winning touchdown over Green Bay in the first-round of the playoffs. He avoided a third-straight franchise tag in 2010, instead signing with Miami the following spring.
Dunta Robinson, South Carolina — Houston Texans: Robinson gave back $25,000 of the $9.957 million franchise tag he begrudgingly signed a week before the start of the 2009 season. The fine was punishment for penning “Pay me, Rick” on his cleats in Week 1, in response to Texans’ general manager Rick Smith, who used the team’s first franchise tag on the former Gamecock. He tallied 54 tackles before bolting to Atlanta.
Brandon Jacobs, Auburn — New York Giants: Jacobs and the Giants needed less than two weeks to strike a four-year, $25 million deal after New York affixed the franchise tag to the ex-Auburn Tiger. His stats fell that year, lowering from a career-high 15 touchdowns in 2008 to a mere five scores, by he lasted another three seasons in the Meadowlands scoring 21 rushing touchdowns over that span.
Karlos Dansby, Auburn — Arizona Cardinals: The first of Dansby’s two franchise tags netted the defensive end $8.065 million.
Stacy Andrews, Ole Miss — Cincinnati Bengals: Andrews wasn’t a starter for Cincinnati in 2007, but that didn’t prevent Cincinnati from trying to retain the versatile Andrews. The offensive lineman inked his tender for $7.455 million, but lasted just one more season with the Bengals before departing for Philadelphia, the Giants and Seattle to close his career.
Ken Hamlin, Arkansas — Dallas Cowboys: Hamlin left such an impression during his first year in Dallas that the Cowboys slapped a franchise tag on him while focusing negotiations on the likes of Flozell Adams, Terrell Owens and Marion Barber that offseason. Hamlin and Dallas eventually agreed to a late-deal that paid the former Arkansas safety $39 million over six years.
Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee — Tennessee Titans: Haynesworth failed to reach an extension with his original team, the Titans, in 2008, being forced to accept a $7.25 million franchise tag deal. Negotiations didn’t go quite as swimmingly the following year, either, and Haynesworth waltzed to Washington via a seven-year, $100 million contract.
Justin Smith, Missouri — Cincinnati Bengals*: Cincinnati got their money’s-worth from the $8.64 million franchise tag they tendered to Smith in the first year of the designation. Smith earned a trip to the Pro Bowl and led the NFL with 29 assisted tackles.
Charles Grant, Georgia — New Orleans Saints: Grant and the Saints had a mutual interest in staying together, bypassing the franchise tag in lieu of a seven-year, $63 million contract extension. He lasted three seasons before the Saints released him. After that, the Georgia alum failed to catch-on with another NFL team, although he did spend some time with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.