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Draft King Analysis
March 3, 2015
Lou Pickney, DraftKing.com

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After months of speculation, negotiation, and planning, the deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise tag hit yesterday at 4 p.m. EST. The list of tagged players is not very long.

Franchise Tag
Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant, WR
Denver Broncos: Demaryius Thomas, WR
Kansas City Chiefs: Justin Houston, LB
New England Patriots: Stephen Gostkowski, K
New York Giants: Jason Pierre-Paul, DE

Transition Tag
Miami Dolphins: Charles Clay, TE

The most contentious of the tags will almost for sure be in Kansas City, where Justin Houston has turned into an elite Edge player (DE/OLB) but is designated by the Chiefs as a linebacker. The difference is significant, as franchise-tagged linebackers are guaranteed $13.195 million for one year versus $14.813 million for defensive ends.

It's not expected that Houston, who turned 26 in January, will sign his tender right away and could decline to sign it well into the season. I would ask the national media to please not call it a holdout, since there is no deal in place which Houston would be holding out from, but I know people are going to use that incorrect term anyway.

Houston, a four-year pro out of Georgia, is coming off a monster season where he recorded a whopping 22 sacks, just a half-sack away from matching Michael Strahan's NFL single-season record -- and without any Brett Favre-related controversy. Houston individually recorded more sacks than the Bengals did as a team (20) and matched the team output for the Falcons and Raiders (22).

It was expected that the Giants would franchise Jason Pierre-Paul after indications during the 2014 season that they wouldn't franchise him. There was no way Dallas would let Dez Bryant hit the open market, while the Broncos had to choose between Demaryius Thomas and tight end Julius Thomas. And the Patriots franchising Gostkowski isn't surprising given the great season he had in 2014, going 35-for-37 and hitting all 57 PATs last season.

Charles Clay receiving the transition tag from Miami is interesting. There is no doubt he fills a traditional tight end role, so there won't be any Jimmy Graham type controversy about his position designation. Players hit with the transition tag can negotiate with other teams, but the original team gets the chance to match any contract that a tagged player signs.

There are some interesting names that will be on the free agent market soon barring a last-minute deal with their 2014 team. The top name on that list is Lions DT Ndamukong Suh. Where he ends up could have a direct impact on the top of the draft board, particularly if Oakland ends up as his destination.

Late this evening came news that a deal will be taking place with Philadelphia trading RB LeSean "Shady" McCoy to the Bills for LB Kiko Alonso. It's a curious move by Buffalo, and it certainly raises questions about the long-term future of RB C.J. Spiller with the Bills. As for the Eagles, it's a good start for revamping their defense, and it will be interesting to see who Chip Kelly brings on board to fill the hole left at the running back position.

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