Don't expect the Green Bay Packers to use the franchise tag this offseason. Not only is there a financial barrier, but the Packers - despite having 18 players without contracts in 2023 - don't have an obvious candidate for the franchise tag.
Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus combed through rosters and free agents to find a franchise tag candidate for each of the 32 teams, but the Packers were one of a handful of teams without a worthwhile or realistic tag candidate.
The window to use the tag begins on Feb. 21, or two weeks from Tuesday. Last year, the Packers used the tag on receiver Davante Adams before trading the All-Pro to the Las Vegas Raiders for first- and second-round picks.
The Packers aren't short on free agents; receiver Allen Lazard and kick returner Keisean Nixon are among the team's soon-to-be unrestricted free agents. But the Packers are also well over the 2023 salary cap, and using the tag - which comes with a bloated one-year salary cap hit based on position - would only add to the financial hardships facing Brian Gutekunst.
Using the tag on Lazard would cost almost $20 million. For Nixon? $18.1 million. Neither amount is within the realm of possibility for the Packers, even though they likely want both players back in Green Bay in 2023.
Players such as safety Adrian Amos, tight end Robert Tonyan, defensive lineman Jarran Reed and kicker Mason Crosby have voiding deals and aren't eligible for the tag. It's unlikely the Packers would have considered the tag for any of the four veterans anyway.
"It's kind of a last-option type of thing," Gutekunst said of the tag. "And then even if we do have to use it, it's more of a bridge to hopefully an extension down the road."
Adams getting the tag last year was the first time the Packers had used the franchise tag since 2010.
Among the top franchise tag candidates highlighted by Spielberger are Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Bengals safety Jessie Bates, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith.
More Latest Packers News!
Unpacking Future Packers: No. 80, Alabama TE Cameron Latu
NFL execs believe trade is most likely for Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Davante Adams' pitch to Aaron Rodgers on playing for Raiders: 'I'm here'
Packers get S Brian Branch, TE Luke Musgrave combo in another mock draft
Offensive tackle represents intriguing position for Packers this offseason
Story originally appeared on Packers Wire