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NFL franchise tag period open: Will Brent Grimes be tagged?

The NFL's franchise tag period opens today, with team having until March 3 to decide if they want to use the one-year, guaranteed contract option on a soon-to-be free agent. For the Miami Dolphins, there really is only one option for the tag - cornerback Brent Grimes.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few weeks, NFL teams have all started building their plans for the 2014 season.  While free agency does not start until mid-March, franchises have to start making decisions on who to re-sign and who to let test the open market now.  One key option during the offseason becomes available today, with the franchise/transition tag period officially opening.  Between now and March 3, teams can elect to use one tag on a player they do not want to lose next season.

For the Miami Dolphins, the decision really comes down to one player - cornerback Brent Grimes.  While the team and Grimes would both likely prefer to not rely on the one-year, guaranteed contract, it may come down to it if a longer term deal cannot be worked out between now and March 3.  Having signed a one-year contract with the Dolphins last year after an Achilles tear forced him to miss most of the 2012 season with the Atlanta Falcons, Grimes bet on himself and won.  He was one of the top cornerbacks in the league last year and earned the second Pro Bowl berth of his career.  Now, he will likely look to cash in with one last contract before the 30-year old reaches retirement.

The Dolphins could place the tag on Grimes, then work with him until the July 15 cut-off for working out a long term deal with franchise tagged players.  That may make the most sense in the long run, but the moment Grimes is tagged, around $11.25 million is cut out of the Dolphins' salary cap space for this year.

Grimes is one of the top players in the league.  The Dolphins need to do whatever they can to keep Grimes, even if that means using the franchise tag this season.  The team may wait until late in the open tag period, simply to try to work out the contract extension without having to actually use the tag, but it has to be assumed Miami will exercise that option if and when it becomes apparent a new contract cannot be completed before free agency starts next month.