With a diminished salary cap going into the offseason, this might be the year the Seahawks need to use the franchise tag. But how they use it and whom they choose to use the tag on is the question, obviously.
It would be cheaper for Seattle to place the tag on running back Chris Carson. Plus, he might be the wisest choice as the Seahawks are going to be hurting for good running backs in 2021 should Carson leave. Carson is the best back Seattle has had for three years and will also likely be the same three years from now. Rashaad Penny stays too hurt to rely on.
Here is the thing, though. As Radio.com says
"The 2021 franchise tag will be a bit different. The salary cap is expected to be lowered, which means the one-year tender will be lower this year compared to last year."
That leads me to cornerback Shaquill Griffin. He would be more likely to make more under the franchise tag as cornerbacks on average make more than running backs now. According to Over The Cap, cornerbacks would make $4.1 million more than running backs.
That is a massive amount of amount. $4 million is the difference between a good backup running back or a couple of unproven free agents at any particular position compared to possibly re-signing a cornerback who hasn’t proven to be a number one cornerback in the NFL. Griffin has been good but not great and hasn’t shown he can be worth $14 million a season.
Seahawks to pay Chris Carson over Shaquill Griffin?
Is Carson worth $11.1 million in 2021? Yes. For one season at least, the answer is yes. What would 12s rather have? Entering a season with Griffin making $14 million or no Griffin versus a year entering Carson with the lead back with Penny as a backup or having Penny as the lead back and no real proven backup?
Just imagine a season-long issue like the end of 2019 when Seattle lost all its lead backs to injury and that ruined the postseason of that year. Maybe Seattle loses to the Packers in the playoffs anyway, but with only Russell Wilson and no running game? No chance.
The most unlikely player to get the franchise tag is linebacker K.J. Wright. If the franchise tag were placed on Wright he might be eligible for $15.6 million in 2021. I like Wright a lot, but hardly any player needs to take up that much cap space.