The franchise tag deadline came and went Monday afternoon with more than eight players, who received the designation today, joining thirteen others, the most (21) in NFL history.
Here’s the complete list of 2012 franchise players:
As expected, however, many of the big-name receivers who were said to make up a top-tier class of free agent wide-outs either signed new contracts with respective teams or were tagged.
Rarely does an NFL franchise simply allow an upper-level player to walk away if they can help it.
But one player, who is believed to be on the Bears’ free agency wish list, was passed over for the tag due to cap concerns. Chargers’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson is set to hit free agency as one of the most highly coveted players in 2012.
Some reports suggest close to a third of the league could be interested in his services.
The Bears were very interested in Vincent Jackson leading up to the 2005 NFL Draft and have remained high on him since—new GM, sure, but same scouts and coaches. Jackson is considered by most, to be the best receiver in free agency—bar none.
ESPN’s John Clayton had this to say after the deadline came and went with Jackson not receiving the tag: “I think the Bears will make a big run at Vincent Jackson.” Intriguing, no?
So, do I buy it? Yes, I do. The key words there are “big run.” What constitutes big? The bottom line is that whichever team ends up signing Vincent Jackson—the Chargers would still like to, by the way, although they will likely be out bid by most every team—they will have to be prepared to make a very “big run.” He’s sure to become one of the highest paid receivers in the NFL.
Jackson and his agent may be seeking close to $13 million per season . . .
And according to Bears’ Chairman of the Board George McCaskey, for the right guy, money will not be a factor. “The bottom line, and Phil knows this, if there is someone we want—and it makes sense—money is not going to be an issue,” George said.
As of right now, the Bears have the money to make Vincent Jackson a reality. With more than $30 million in cap space, they could make multiple moves in free agency.
The team does want to build through the draft, however, and whispers and rumors about the Halls of Halas had led many to believe that Jerry Angelo’s tendency in recent years to falter from that same philosophy is a big part of what got him fired.
So, for first-time GM Phil Emery, making an enormous move on a player like Jackson is a huge risk.
Vincent Jackson or not, 2012 free agency will be loaded with impact players the Bears could be looking to add to a roster with plenty of needs. If they are dead set on going after a wide receiver, there is more than Vincent Jackson.
Among the other market receivers of note will be Marques Colston, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Lloyd, Pierre Garcon and Mike Wallace (RFA).
Outside of the wide receiver position, players like defensive end Mario Williams, offensive guard Carl Nicks, and cornerback Cortland Finnegan will also be available for the Bears to consider.
That’s a pretty short list of spectacular players. (Could you just imagine Peppers and Williams? Can you say 50+ sack season?!) And for a team with three of its own cornerbacks heading into free agency, you have to consider a guy like Finnegan, don’t you? One might also make the argument that the offensive line is nowhere near close to repaired—hence, Carl Nicks . . . and so on.
Me? I care what you think. So, Bears fans . . . what position do you want the team to target in free agency?