The Falcons, who have 14 free agents, do not plan to use their franchise tag.
“We haven’t made our final decision,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “But at this point, our plan is not to use it.”
Several teams have used the franchise tag. New England has tagged guard Logan Mankins, the New York Jets ILB David Harris, San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, Philadelphia QB Michael Vick, Baltimore NT Haloti Ngata and Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning.
The list is expected to grow by the Wed, Feb. 23 deadline.
By putting the “franchise” tag on a player, the Falcons would have the right to match any offer the player receives in free agency or receive two first-round picks as compensation. The player is guaranteed a one-year contract worth the average of the top five players at his position or a 20 percent increase over his 2010 salary, whichever is greater.
Mankins is important because he’s at one the Falcons’ key positions. He’s projected to be guaranteed $10 million as a franchise player. Both of the Falcons guards are free agents and the team doesn’t appear to want to lock them in at $10 million for next season.
Included in the group of free agents are three starting offensive linemen in left guard Justin Blalock (four years), right guard Harvey Dahl (four years) and right tackle Tyson Clabo (six years), who made the Pro Bowl last season.
Linebacker Coy Wire, was set to become a free agent, re-signed with the team.
Here’s a list of the other free agents.
Matt Bryant, PK, 9 years
Brian Finneran, WR, 10 years
Brent Grimes, CB, 3 years
Michael Koenen, P, 6 years
Trey Lewis, DT, 3 years
Stephen Nicholas, LB, 4 years
Jerious Norwood, RB, 5 years
Michael Peterson, LB, 12 years
Will Svitek, LT, 5 years
Eric Weems, WR, 3 years
Brian Williams, CB, 9 years
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog