Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Franchise Tag Deadline: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Do Not Use Franchise Tag on Michael Bennett

The 2013 deadline for NFL teams to apply the franchise tag to free agent players came and went today, and as expected, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did not use the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Bennett, or any other player on the roster. That means that any players who have not yet signed a new deal with the club (Ronde Barber, Michael Bennett, Dallas Clark, Roy Miller, E.J. Biggers, and Sammie Stroughter, for example) are now free agents, and will be available for other teams to negotiate with beginning this weekend, unless a deal is reached with the Buccaneers in the mean time.

Here is a list of the players who did receive the franchise tag from their respective teams:

Here is a list of players that currently have been designated as their team’s franchise player:

Johnson and Spencer might have been targeted by the Buccaneers, as they would help bolster the pass rush. Starks or Melton could have also been on the Bucs radar as a compliment to Gerald McCoy. Jarius Byrd was likely the most frustrating tag from a Tampa Bay perspective, as a veteran defensive back being off the market means more competition to sign the remaining available DB’s this offseason. The offensive lineman and punter who were tagged were unlikely to ever set foot in the Tampa area and their tag status is of little to no consequence to the Buccaneers.

So now we look ahead to the start of free agent season. For the first time ever, there will be an unofficial start to free agency, where teams can negotiate with players prior to the open season on contract signing. Beginning Friday, NFL teams can meet with free agents and discuss terms, conditions, and give a sales pitch. But the player will be unable to sign on the dotted line until March 12th at 4 PM, when 2012 contracts officially expire. It will be interesting to see how this impacts free agency, with the ability for leaked information about offers made to skew the market. If Sean Smith comes to Tampa Bay for a visit, and the Buccaneers offer him a 9 million dollar contract, it will be interesting to see if a “source” lets that information out, and subsequent offers from other teams are slightly higher than the Bucs offer. Just something to consider with the new rule in place.

This will be a very busy and exciting time of year, to be sure. Mark Dominik and his crew are about to enter the most hectic period for an NFL front office, and the Pewter Plank will be here to break down all the moves this offseason.

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Tags: Free Agency NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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