On Monday, the NFL's window for teams to utilize the franchise or transition tag officially opened. This means that the Detroit Lions now have the opportunity to place one of these tags on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The Lions have until March 2 to make a decision on tagging Suh, who is set to become a free agent on March 10.
Although the Lions have maintained that they haven't ruled out using the franchise tag on Suh, it doesn't sound like they have made a concrete decision one way or the other just yet:
Colleague Ed Werder just reported on ESPN that the #Lions are still making a decision on whether or not to tag Ndamukong Suh.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) February 16, 2015
The problem with tagging Suh -- franchise or otherwise -- is that it would cost the Lions $26.9 million. In theory, tagging Suh would give the Lions some leverage and extra time to work out a long-term deal, but chances are he would immediately sign the tag given how much it is worth. By signing the tag, Suh would get an astounding $26.9 million payday for 2015, and he would have another chance to cash in next year.
Making things even more difficult is the salary cap. The exact cap number hasn't been announced just yet, but the Lions are projected to have around $17 million to work with when the new league year begins in March. In order to create enough space to franchise Suh, the Lions would have to release some players and/or restructure some contracts. They would also have to set aside enough room for their draft class, and they would have basically no room to do anything else in free agency.
In other words, franchising Suh would make life quite difficult for the Lions. Of course, losing Suh to another team would also make life quite difficult for the Lions, so they will have to weigh the positives and negatives of tagging him as they think things over these next two weeks.