Five players that are sure to receive the franchise tag*

The NFL free agency period is approaching, and while there are several names on the list, don’t expect too many of the bigger names to be changing teams.  No, we aren’t talking about Peyton Manning.  We are talking about all the other big names.  Though they would all love to land a huge deal, many of their teams will not want them doing it elsewhere and they also can’t give it to them just yet.  These are five names that are likely to be hit with the franchise tag.

5.  Ray Rice –  Most teams are wary of giving a running back, any running back, a long term deal.  Want proof of that?  Just look at Matt Forte and Adrian Peterson.  Peterson got his deal and tore his knee.  Forte didn’t get his deal and tore his knee.  Ray Rice is just as productive as both those players, and he makes Joe Flacco’s numbers look way better than they actually are.  He has publicly stated that he deserves money like Peterson, but the Ravens are likely to only give him one years worth of that.

4. DeSean Jackson-  He wanted a deal last year, acted like a spoiled brat, and received nothing but a couple of benchings.  Jackson has the ability to put up some ridiculous numbers when his head is on straight.  He is the perfect receiver for Michael Vick, as guys like Jackson in the open field are hard to keep up with when a play breaks down. And plays breakdown a lot with Vick under center.  Let’s not forget his ability to change the direction of a game on special teams as well.  Giants fans remember.

3. Cliff Avril - A year ago it was thought that Mario Williams would be the big defensive end that other teams wanted, but now it looks to be Avril.  The pass rusher accumulated 11 sacks, while forcing 6 fumbles and recovering 3 himself. Avril’s stats and pass rushing ability remind us of a younger version of Osi Umenyiora.  Tamba Hali received a huuuuuuuuge deal a year ago, and Avril expects a long-term deal paying him close to $12 million per.  With Kyle Vanden Bosch another year older, the Lions need to keep Avril.  But the Lions have so many needs in their secondary, they can’t commit long-term right away.  Avril has said that he would holdout if he was hit with the tag.

2. Matt Forte – we mentioned him before, and now since he is coming off injury, he has almost zero say in what he is going to get.  When he went down last year, it was even a bigger loss than Jay Cutler.  Okay, maybe.  But Forte will have one year to prove himself still worthy of a deal.  He will get paid handsomely to prove himself.

1. Drew Brees-  Peyton has been franchised, and Drew Brees can be too.  He is probably the most deserving of any other player on this list of a big payday, but New Orleans has so many guys to round up, not to mention the crap they have on defense.  Brees resurrected the franchise and is likely to continue to put it in front of himself.  He has done very well financially since helping to bring this team to the holy land in 2010.  If for some reason he doesn’t get hit with it, his All-Pro center, Carl Nicks, is #1 on the list.   But because Brees would be a bigger cap casualty for years to come, Nicks will be the one landing the deal first.

*or we’re more likely to be wrong about