As of today, NFL teams are allowed to use their one franchise tag, preventing the loss of a coveted player through free agency. For the Cleveland Browns, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is the likely choice to receive the tag, but only if the team can’t get him signed to a long-term deal.
Kicker Phil Dawson is another possible candidate for the franchise tag. He has been seeking a long-term deal for quite some time, and the Browns franchised him last season. But his reliability is something the Browns can’t pass up, and if Jackson is signed to a new deal, Dawson could very well receive the tag again.
That’s the dilemma the Browns currently face. If the Browns can’t franchise tag Dawson, he is likely gone to another team, and he will certainly be missed. He was 24-of-29 on field goals in 2011, and his eight field goals beyond 50 yards was tied for most in the NFL.
Jackson, who finished second in Comeback Player of the Year voting, will be back with the Browns no matter what. How he comes back determines some of the Browns’ other offseason plans. If he receives the franchise tag, he will make a salary of $8.8 million. Should Dawson get the tag, he will make about $3.8 million, which is a raise over his 2011 salary ($3.175 million).
Teams have until March 5 to decide what to do with the franchise tag. The NFL’s free agency period begins on March 13.