With so many defensive players set to become free agents this offseason, the thinking has been that the Detroit Lions may make use of the franchise tag again. After franchising defensive end Cliff Avril last year, the focus has shifted to the possibility of cornerback Chris Houston or safety Louis Delmas getting it this year. Houston has already made it known that he wants no part of being tagged, and based on what Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said on Wednesday, it looks like he may not have to worry about it.
Mayhew on franchise tag this year: "I don't see us using it" ... Lions tagged Avril last year— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) January 2, 2013
Of course, just because Mayhew doesn't see the Lions using the franchise tag right now doesn't mean he won't actually end up using it. Last year, the word from the Lions was that they didn't want to franchise Avril, but that's what ended up happening. If it comes down to a situation where the Lions decide that they simply can't afford to lose someone like Houston, they could change their plans.
The flip side is that the reason Mayhew doesn't see the Lions using the franchise tag is because it would be too expensive. Avril likely won't get it again because he would receive a guaranteed deal of $12.726 million in 2013. As for Houston, he would likely get around $10.668 million if the Lions franchised him, and that is a lot for a cornerback. Finally, Delmas would get nearly $7 million if he is franchised, and that is a lot for someone who can't stay healthy.
Essentially, Mayhew doesn't view the cost of the franchise tag to be worth using it this year, and I can't blame him. Given the Lions' salary cap situation, dishing out a guaranteed deal like that would not be the wisest idea.