Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports recommends that the Detroit Lions will use the franchise tag on safety Tracy Walker. The franchise tag period started this past Monday, February 21st, with the deadline for organizations to tag a player set for March 8th.
This is the first of many stages of the offseason for teams. First, it’s the franchise tag, which coincides with in-house contract negotiations/extensions, then comes free agency followed by the NFL combine and eventually the NFL Draft. We’re just a week or so removed from not having any football to watch on Sunday, and as these things start happening before you know it, we will be set to begin OTAs.
Teams can use the franchise tag in hopes of landing a long-term deal with said player later on in the offseason. Sometimes the tag can also be used as a final chance to evaluate a player before committing multi-millions in salary.
Take, for example, Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is entering the final year of his current deal, so fast forward a year from now, the Browns may elect to use the tag on Mayfield to get one more year before deciding if they’d like to reward him with a big-time extension or look for a replacement.
CBS Sports suggests Tracy Walker should be franchise tagged by the Detroit Lions.
Walker is considered to be the top pending free agent set to hit the open market from the Detroit Lions roster.
The Lions already have a glaring need at the safety position. Even if general manager Brad Holmes tags Walker, Detroit needs to either draft or sign a starter in free agency to replace Will Harris and Dean Marlowe.
Walker, a 27-year old, brings leadership and versatility to the backend of Detroit’s defense with his ability to play either safety position. If the Detroit Lions elected to draft Daxton Hill out of Michigan, Walker would be asked to play as the strong safety with Hill better suited as a free safety who’d often be utilized working out of the slot in man-to-man coverage.
If the Lions chose to draft Georgia’s hard-hitting Lewis Cine, Walker would most likely play as a free safety. Versatility is such a bonus in 2022 with all of the high octane offenses across the NFL.
Walker finished with a team-leading 108 tackles, 82 of which came as the solo variety this past season but missed a whopping 14 tackles on the year. According to Pro Football Focus, Walker earned an overall grade of 65.1 for his work in 2021.
If Kerr is correct, the tag for a safety this upcoming season is just over $12 million. If I am the Lions, I avoid doing this and look elsewhere if a long-term extension can’t be agreed upon.
I like Walker, but that’s a bit steep. I’d expect Walker to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million per season on a multi-year extension which would be a bit more sustainable for the rebuilding Lions.
Other potential free-agent safety options include Marcus Williams, Jabrill Peppers, Quandre Diggs, and Jordan Whitehead.