With just 16 pending free agents on their young roster, the St. Louis Rams' franchise tag options are extremely limited—as in, there's only one of them.
His name is Rodger Saffold.
Most of the potential candidates don't usually start for the team: Kellen Clemens, Shelley Smith, Matt Giordano, Mike McNeill, Will Witherspoon, Tim Barnes, Austin Davis, Quinton Pointer, Justin Veltung, Sammy Brown, Garrett Lindholm and Ryan McKee fit that description.
As well as Clemens played in relief of Sam Bradford, he's not getting quarterback franchise tag money.
He just isn't. That would be well into eight-figure territory, and it's not going to happen.
The other four guys—Jo-Lonn Dunbar (10), Saffold (9), Darian Stewart (6) and Chris Williams (16)—had 41 combined starts this season. Williams was the only one to have played all 16, but that's the second time he's ever played a full slate of games in his six-year career.
Dunbar started all 16 for Jeff Fisher in 2012, the only one of the soon-to-be free agents to do so. However, his stat-stuffing WILL position was taken by rookie Alec Ogletree. CBSSports.com's Joel Corry projects the franchise tag number for linebackers next season to be $10,895,000.
That's a massive—and highly unlikely—pay raise for the six-year pro, who counted for $650,000 against the cap in 2013.
The Rams would have to pony up over $8 million to tag Stewart for one season. That's not going to happen either.
St. Louis' cap situation isn't exactly conducive to paying Saffold the $11.1 million expected of a franchise-tagged offensive lineman—his specific position is irrelevant for these purposes. The Rams already have over $123 million spoken for against the 2014 cap.
It's projected by Corry to be $126.5 million. The Rams would have to massage someone else's deal to tag anyone.
That's why, ultimately, no one will get that designation in St. Louis.
The Rams need to make sure they secure Saffold's services, considering that their offensive line has been injured more often than not in recent seasons. Still, tagging him would make him the third-heaviest cap hit on the team for next year.
General manager Les Snead has to avoid using the tag on anyone right now.
Salary-cap information courtesy of Spotrac.com.
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