NFL Franchise Tags: Kansas City Chiefs Have Tough Decision, A Few Teams Don't

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18: Brandon Carr #39 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a win against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium on December 18, 2011 in Kansas CIty, Missouri. The Chiefs defeated the Packers 19-14. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The NFL off-season really gets underway in a few short days as teams can begin using their franchise tags on February 20th.

In what will be the first major development of the NFL off-season, teams can begin to use the franchise tag on their players coming up on February 20th. There are a few teams around the league that don't have tough decisions in regards to which players that are going to be tagged. For example, the New Orleans Saints will be tagging their quarterback, Drew Brees. That's pretty much as much of a no-brainer as there is this go-round. Gregg Rosenthal of NBC Sports created his own list of who was most likely to be tagged for each NFL team.

Besides Brees, a couple of others in the no-brainer category would be running backs Matt Forte and Ray Rice. The Chicago Bears offense revolves around Forte and there is no way that the Baltimore Ravens let Rice walk free.

But when you look at some of the tougher decisions around the league you need not look further than the Kansas City Chiefs. As it stands right now cornerback Brandon Carr and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe are both scheduled to become free agents when the new league year hits in a few weeks. While the Chiefs have said publicly that their number one priority this off-season is to keep both of those players in Kansas City, time is running short on getting a long-term deal done with one of them so they can use the tag on the other.

Rosenthal believes that if the Chiefs had to pick from one of the two, he believes that Carr would get the tag.

If Vegas set odds on franchise tags, Dwayne Bowe would be the heavy favorite in Kansas City. I’m going with the underdog. Bowe is not a Scott Pioli type of guy in terms of attitude or consistency. He’s a better fantasy football player than in reality. In a perfect world, the Chiefs would sign Carr long-term and franchise Bowe. That’s a realistic scenario. I’m writing in an imperfect world before any big deals are made. If the choice is Carr or Bowe, the rising young cornerback is the pick.

While I don't disagree with what Rosenthal is saying, I get the feeling that Carr won't be the pick. It might have a little to do with Stanford Routt's two-day visit to the Chiefs. But hopefully that's just a conversation that leads into negotiations with Carr's camp as to where to start with contract expectations for both sides. If the Chiefs get a realistic number of what Routt is looking for it might help them understand the market for what a cornerback would cost in free agency if they used the tag on Bowe.

The other aspect of this is that wide receivers' Wes Welker, Mike Wallace and Vincent Jackson are all looking for deals this off-season as well and those contracts would set the market for Bowe. Not to mention that Calvin Johnson should be getting a new deal sometime in the next year and his contract might surpasse that of Larry Fitzgeralds record-breaking deal. I think it would be in the Chiefs best interest to get a deal done with Bowe as soon as possible and then tag Carr.

All of these scenarios are contingent on both of these players wanting to be back in Kansas City. The Chiefs have done a great job within the last year of keeping their young talent with contracts that showed that they didn't have to overpay their players to keep them in Kansas City. Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Brandon Flowers all signed long-term deals to stay in Kansas City without breaking the bank. The Chiefs have these two players left to solidify a core of players that should lead the Chiefs through the next half-decade.

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