It turns out that idea about using the transition tag on Sheldon Richardson is not quite as good as we thought it was.
We recently posited the idea that John Schneider might prefer the transition tender to the franchise marker because (1) it is cheaper, (2) Richardson could shop himself, (3) Schneider still could match and (4) Seattle still could get a third-round comp pick in 2019 if Richardson left.
That all still applies, except No. 4. It turns out the NFL recently changed the rule and transition players no longer qualify for comp picks. This was discovered by Nick Korte of Over The Cap in 2016, as related to Miami rescinding the transition tag for Olivier Vernon. (We usually do the right research to get facts straight before posting anything, but we missed this change.)
It takes away some of the leverage we thought Schneider might have if he chose the cheaper tag.
Knowing this rule change, the only way Schneider would consider the cheaper transition tag for Richardson is if he were very confident he would not lose him — i.e., the GM knew Richardson’s market so well that either no team would offer him enough or Schneider would be willing to match any offer.
Of course, if the latter were true, Schneider should be able to strike a deal with Richardson — unless the defensive tackle didn’t want a long-term contract in Seattle.
This all takes us back to the franchise tag, which still seems unlikely unless Schneider plans to use it to trade Richardson. Schneider needs to be judicious in his spending this offseason, and $14.5 million for one player seems unwieldy.
It was always most likely that Schneider would not tag Richardson even if he couldn’t strike a long-term deal, and that seems even more likely at this point.