2014 NFL Free Agency: Steelers transition tag Jason Worilds, Browns pass on franchise tag for T.J. Ward

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL deadline for the franchise and transition tags have passed and now the free agent class looks a bit different.

The deadline has come and gone for teams looking to place the franchise or transition tags on their players that are about to become free agents. The transition tag offers a fully-guaranteed, one-year deal to players, while allowing the team to match a contract if the player attempts to sign elsewhere. The tag gives teams five days to match. The franchise tag is a heftier one-year deal that allows for two first round picks to be the compensation for a player that signs elsewhere.

Here is a look what has happened with the tags and how they may impact the Eagles:

  • Saints tight end Jimmy Graham has been assigned the franchise tag, according several reports. He will likely challenge the tag, as the Saints may designate him with a tight end label. That deal is significantly less than one for a wide receiver and Graham has been a top pass-catcher for the Saints over the last two season. His tag does not have much impact on the Eagles.
  • Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was given the franchise tag on Friday. His likely inability to hit the open market will impact the pass rusher class. Instead of going after Hardy, there will be plenty of competition for the other pass rushers in free agency.
  • Much like Hardy, Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo has also received the franchise tag. It came down to the wire but Washington decided to keep the pass rusher on Monday, according to the Washington Post. The tag likely keeps Orakpo from going anywhere and leaves one less pass rusher on the market. It also keeps Orakpo on the Redskins, which is not the best thing their NFC East rivals, including the Eagles.
  • Jets kicker Nick Folk has also received the franchise tag. He and Graham Gano were the top two free agents at the position, but now both will stay put with their current teams. Gano re-signed with the Panthers shortly after the NFL Combine. The Jets franchise tagging Folk leaves the kicker market extremely shallow.
  • Browns center Alex Mack received the transition tag on Monday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. This will likely keep him in Cleveland while both sides work on a long-term deal. This move leaves Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward open to hit the free agent market. The Eagles have a clear need at the position and even if they are against paying Ward tons of money, it gives the class more depth and allows for Philadelphia to possibly get a jump on other players. Ward will likely be one of the top paid safeties in the league by the end of next week.
  • The Steelers have placed the transition tag on outside linebacker Jason Worlids, according to Schefter. He was among the young standout pass rushers set to hit the market. What makes Worilds different from Mack, is that the Steelers have limited cap space and other teams could outbid them for his services, as pointed out by ESPN's Andrew Brandt. This move may keep some of the more cap conservative teams away, which could mean the Eagles pass on Worilds.
  • The Bills have decided to pass on the franchise tag for Jairus Byrdas BGN mentioned on Sunday. Like Ward, Byrd's status makes the safety position the strength of the free agent class. Perhaps teams negotiating with the pair of former Oregon Ducks can lead to a bargain for the second-tier players like Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Clemons. The Eagles will almost definitely add a few safeties in the offseason and free agency seems like a good place to start.
  • In non-tag news: the Titans re-signed veteran safety Bernard Pollard, and the 49ers re-signed veteran receiver Anquan Boldin.

It will be interesting to see how these moves affect the Eagles' offseason. NFL free agency officially begins next week on Tuesday, March 11 at 4 PM EST.

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