The only realistic candidate for the Bills’ franchise tag is cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The tag is expected to cost about $15 million, which could be too rich for a defense that already has devoted big money to defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and defensive end Jerry Hughes. If the Bills decide to keep quarterback Tyrod Taylor this offseason at a $15.9 million cap number in 2017, they might not have the salary-cap space to assign the franchise tag to Gilmore.
Could it work? It’s hard to see it, given how rarely the Packers dip into the free-agent market and how many questions they have to answer on their offensive line, where T.J. Lang is a free agent. They’re also not a team that would offer Peterson a boatload of carries.
Le’Veon Bell is the easy call here. Bell was to running backs what Aaron Rodgers was to quarterbacks in 2016, a wizard with the ball who shifted and cut with ease. The Steelers would be willing to let Bell play on the $12.7 million running back tag if necessary, but the tag is a placeholder for a long-term deal if it makes sense. The team won’t pay Adrian Peterson money ($14 million per year). The $9 million to $10 million range might be more feasible for both parties.
Running back situation: Jacquizz Rodgers led the team in rushing with 560 yards, but he’s a free agent. Doug Martin and his $7 million cap hit could also be on the way out after a violation for performance-enhancing drugs last season. Charles Sims, who played only seven games in 2016, is in the final year of his contract.
Could it work? It might have been no accident that Peterson mentioned the Bucs (remember in 2015 when his agent, Ben Dogra, posed in a Tampa Bay hat next to Peterson’s jersey during his standoff with the Vikings?). They’ve got the cap space to pay him plenty of money, though an up-and-coming young team might look to stick with a back like Rodgers as it builds around quarterback Jameis Winston. Should the Buccaneers have interest, though, they’ve got the wherewithal to get Peterson.