In December, we suggested the concept of Seattle using the franchise tag on Sheldon Richardson in order to then possibly trade him. John Clayton and Joel Corry recently talked about the move as an option, too.
But, the more we think about it, the more the transition tag seems like the better option for John Schneider and the Seahawks.
Yeah, we know, the last time the Seahawks used the transition tag, it was a disaster. But there are no more poison pills. And Schneider obviously would be fine with losing Richardson if he did use the transition tender.
Here’s why it might be better:
The transition tag is cheaper, as it goes off the top 10 NFL players per position rather than the top five. While the franchise tag for defensive tackles is projected at $14.5 million this year, the transition tag is forecast at $11.7 million — nearly $3 million less.
Unlike the more prohibitive franchise tag, the transition tag offers no compensation to the original team if the player leaves. That means teams are much more amenable to courting transition players. As a transition player, Richardson would get a chance to shop himself and find his market value.
If Richardson were to sign an offer sheet, Schneider would have the option to match. Schneider probably doesn’t want to pay more than $10 million per year on a long-term deal — although, if he used the transition tender, he obviously would be willing to go to $12 million.
If Schneider chose not to match, Richardson would still count in the comp formula — which means Seattle likely would get a third-rounder in 2019. The result would be the same as if Schneider had not tagged Richardson.
Richardson seems very unlikely to want to strike a long-term deal with Seattle before free agency. He surely will want to see what offers he can attract.
So, if Schneider wants to keep Richardson for at least another year, he has to tag him (the window is Feb. 20-March 6). Unless he’s willing to pay $14.5 million for 2018 (unlikely), the only reason to use the franchise tag would be to solicit trade offers that would net at least a second-round pick — the same pick Schneider gave the Jets for the tackle in September.
Otherwise, it makes more sense to use the transition tag and see where it goes. Either Seattle keeps Richardson at $11.7 million for 2018 or watches him leave and gets a third-round pick in 2019. And, if he left after 2018, he likely would net a third-rounder in 2020.
Bottom line: The transition tag seems to make a lot of sense for Seattle this time.