Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and his staff have plenty of tough decisions to make this offseason.
One of them could revolve on whether or not to try and keep a current player for another year by using the team’s franchise tag.
Tagging a player is something the Steelers usually stay away from. In all likelihood, that will be the case this offseason as well.
The Steelers haven’t used their franchise tag in three seasons, mostly due to their ongoing problems with the salary cap. Tagging a player does have some value to teams as it allows one more year to determine a player’s long-term value.
Looking at the Steelers’ current crop of free agents, there are only two players which made even a little bit of sense for the Steelers to consider franchising. It makes the least sense in the case of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
The Steelers like Sanders, but quite frankly he didn’t show enough this past season that would make me think the Steelers would invest a long-term contract in him.
Given the lack of depth at the wide receiver position, it would be nice to be able to franchise Sanders and get one more look at him throughout 16 games to determine if he is worth big money.
However by using the franchise tag on Sanders, the Steelers would have to commit almost $12 million to an inconsistent wide receiver and that is something that is entirely out of the question.
Tagging outside linebacker Jason Worilds makes a little more sense though.
Worilds came on very strong towards the end of the 2013 season, offering a glimpse of potentially being the Steelers’ next great pass-rusher coming off the edge.
However, consistency and injury problems have been a concern for Worilds his first three seasons, so it would be nice to get another 16-game evaluation on him before committing big money. The problem is it will be too costly.
Doing so with Worilds will cost the team close to $11 million next season and that is too much for a guy who really had only four or five dominant weeks.
At the end of the day using the franchise tag is pretty much out of the question for the Steelers.
I definitely don’t see Sanders coming back and with Worilds, the Steelers will have to hope some other team doesn’t jump on him with a big contract early in free agency.