Franchise tag for Stevie?

February 24th, 2012 at 12:51 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

It’s an opti0n for the Buffalo Bills, and it’s an option they’re wisely not going to dismiss right now.  But I don’t think they’ll use a franchise tag to  keep Stevie Johnson on the roster this year.

At the NFL combine in Indianapolis, I spoke today with Bills GM Buddy Nix about the possibility of tagging Stevie, with the deadline for use of the tag approaching (Monday March 5th.)

“ I think there’s an upside and downside to it,” Nix told me.  “The downside is the amount of cap hit that you take, it uses up an awful lot of cap space in one year.  But, again it’s something that you got, and you got a chance to use it if you want to, so it’s an option.”

It would make little sense for Nix and the Bills to dismiss the chance of using the franchise tag on Stevie right now.  It’s some of the best leverage they have, as they move into serious talks with the WR this afternoon.  But I think that’s all it will amount to–leverage.  I think the Bills are determined to get Johnson’s deal done in the next two and a half weeks, before he hits the free agent market.  And I think they’re eventually going to settle on a number from $7.5-$8-million per year.

That kind of money would make Johnson a clear-cut #1 WR on the Bills roster.

Still up for debate, I believe–is Stevie really a bona fide #1 WR in the NFL?  I asked Nix that this morning and got an interesting response.

“He’s our number one right now.  But  in the league, I don’t know whether he would be or  not,”  he replied.

It’s going to get interesting in the next couple of weeks.

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