Breaking Down the New Orleans Saints' Franchise Tag Decisions

Will Osgood@@BRwillosgoodAnalyst IFebruary 18, 2013

In 2012, the Saints used the franchise tag on Drew Brees. Jermon Bushrod is the only semi-legitimate option in 2013.
In 2012, the Saints used the franchise tag on Drew Brees. Jermon Bushrod is the only semi-legitimate option in 2013.Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints' franchise tag options are about as bare as the cupboard of a college bachelor pad in the middle of a semester. In other words, it takes some serious searching to find any legitimate options. 

It is key to understand that only free agents are eligible for the franchise tag. In 2012, the Saints elected to use the tag on Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees before eventually signing him to his record $100 million deal in July. 

The team also had the option of placing the tag on left guard Carl Nicks, who eventually left town for greener pastures (at least in terms of dollar bills) in Tampa Bay. Marques Colston was a third option.

The team was able to ink Colston shortly before the 2012 free-agency period commenced, making the franchise tag unnecessary. 

This year, Mickey Loomis has but one option for using the tag. And it is an option he should avoid at all cost. 

Left tackle Jermon Bushrod is the only free agent the team could possibly target for the franchise tag. Bushrod could command a high salary due to his consecutive Pro Bowl nods, and losing him would not make life any easier for Drew Brees in 2013. 

Of course, it is debatable whether it would make life any harder either. Despite the two Pro Bowl nods Bushrod secured the past two seasons, it is not as if he's been some wonderful pass protector. 

In 2011, Bushrod committed six total penalties for negative-39 yards accrued. He only gave up three sacks, which was a career low. In 2012, Bushrod committed six penalties again, this time for 35 yards. 

And he gave up 4.5 sacks. 

More importantly, any fan could observe that opposing defenses targeted him on outside rushes. He routinely was beat with a speed rush to the outside, but he was also bull-rushed a number of times. 

Because Bushrod was weak and slow enough to give an advantage in his one-on-one matchup, it forced guard Ben Grubbs or a back to help out. The result was often inside pressures that would get to Brees as a result of him having to step up to avoid the outside rush. 

In other words, Bushrod is overrated. He's probably not really as poor as the 25th tackle in the NFL, as Pro Football Focus has him ranked. But he certainly was not Pro Bowl-worthy in 2012. 

Yet some team is going to see "the production" and go crazy for him. It better not be Mickey Loomis and Co. They should know Bushrod is overrated. 

The franchise tag in 2013 would guarantee Bushrod a salary in the range of $9.5 million. Luckily, Bushrod is likely not expecting to earn that much money. If he were, the Saints would be forced to allow him to walk. 

The truth is that the team should allow Bushrod to walk regardless. And it should forget using the franchise tag on any other player. 

In the 2013 offseason it is an irrelevant tag for the New Orleans Saints.