Pretty simple answer to the question of whether the Miami Dolphins could use their franchise tag on a player in the 2015 offseason. Okay, they technically "could" use it, but thet most likely will not. Simply put, it is too expensive for a team looking to free up some salary cap space this year.
The franchise tag period opened officially on Monday, meaning teams can start using the one-year contract to keep one player who had been headed for free agency. The tag will pay the player a salary calcultaed by adding up the five previous franchise tags at the position, dividing it by the salary cap over the past five seasons, then multiplying the quotient by the 2015 salary cap. The money is fully guaranteed for the 2015 season, meaning players stand to make a lot of money on the one-year contract.
Of course, most players resent the franchise tag because it is just a one-year contract. The players would prefer a longer-term deal, one that gives them some stability.
The salary cap for 2015 has not yet been set, which means the franchise tag numbers can only be projected, but they are currently thought to be:
Quarterback - $18.51 million
Running back - $10.93 million
Wide receiver - $12.80 million
Tight end - $8.33 million
Offensive lineman - $12.92 million
Defensive tackle - $11.17 million
Defensive end - $14.78 million
Linebacker - $13.17 million
Cornerback - $13.05 million
Safety - $9.60 million
Kicker/punter - $4.12 million
Looking at the Miami Dolphins' list of upcoming unrestricted free agents, only two players really jump out as potentially franchise tag worthy: tight end Charles Clay and defensive tackle Jared Odrick. Both players are young starters on the team, as well as players around whom the offense or defense, respectively, can be built.
Clay is coming off a down year, one in which he battled through injuries for much of the season, yet still topped 600 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, good enough for the third most on the team in both categories. He was also third in the team in receptions and targets, despite having only played 14 games in 2014.
Odrick was the Dolphins most dependable defensive tackle this year, and, while his sack numbers fell to just one after reaching at least 4.5 each of the last three seasons, he was a key member of the defensive line. The argument could be made that, with the fall of of the defensive line at the end of the season, Odrick was a key part of that drop off as well, but the man with the Pee-Wee Herman sack dance was also asked to do a lot more, and play more snaps, than anyone else on the line. He is only 27-years-old, and he gives the Dolphins versatility, being able to play 4-3 defensive end, 3-4 defensive end, or 4-3 defensive tackle without much adjustment.
All that being said, if I am Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey, I am not franchise tagging either player. The salary numbers just jump too much for this season, where the Dolphins enter the offseason needing to find salary cap space. I am trying as best I can to sign both players to long-term deals, and rumors out of the team's Davie facilities have indicated they are going to try to get both players back for 2015, but I cannot find a way to franchise either.