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New York Giants unlikely to use franchise tag to keep free agents

New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (91) is set to become a free agent in March. But do not expect the G-men to exercise it franchise tag on the team captain.
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

In 21 years, the New York Football Giants have used the NFL's collective bargaining agreement (CBA) franchise or transition designations to keep free agents from leaving the Big Apple just six times, according to Dan Salomone of Giants.com in an article posted yesterday on the official Giants' website.

With 21 veterans eligible to be tagged by the New York Giants, it would seem logical that Big Blue would use the franchise tag this off season to keep a veteran like Justin Tuck in the fold for another year, but based upon the salary attached to handing out the designation, it appears to be a non-starter for the salary cap challenged team.

Salomone indicated that NFL are now free to slap a designation on their soon-to-be free agent players. He wrote, "Under the current collective bargaining agreement, teams can designate one player among its veteran free agents until the 4 p.m. ET deadline on March 3. The salary offer by a player’s club determines whether the franchise player designation is exclusive or non-exclusive."

According to OverTheCap.com, the Giants have $13.4 million in salary cap space in advance of free agency, which begins on March 11th. According to various media reports, the team has been in discussions with linebacker Jon Beason about an extension. In addition, veteran defensive end, Justin Tuck, who led the team in sacks last season with 11, would likely be another pending free agent that New York would prefer to return in 2014.

But according to the franchise player pay scale, tagging Tuck as the franchise player would cost the team $12.6 million in 2014. Meanwhile, applying the same designation to Beason would be less expensive than Tuck, but still costly at $11 million.

The reality is that Tuck's new contract should be in the $4 to $5 million range per season, depending upon the guaranteed money, while Beason would also likely be in the same range on the open market. In Tuck's case, the Giants would most likely want a two-year deal, while Tuck would probably prefer a three-year pact.

Under normal circumstances, at 28 years old, Beason might be able to command a five-year contract, except for the injuries that plagued him previously with the Carolina Panthers. In any case, at these salaries, it would be hard to imagine too many NFL teams designating players with the franchise tag this off season, other than tight end Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints.