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Could Ravens Use Franchise Tag On Justin Tucker?


The Ravens have obtained the services of one of the NFL's best kickers at a bargain rate the last four years.

That's going to change next year if the Ravens plan to keep Justin Tucker in Baltimore.

The 26-year-old kicker is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and the two sides would like to work out a long-term contract extension. But if they can't agree on the terms of a new deal, the Ravens do have the franchise tag at their disposal.

"We would like to have Justin continue to be a part of our football team," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said. "We will go to work on trying to get a contract done. We do know what the franchise number is for a kicker, if it gets to that. But, we will go to work on that, and we want Justin to be a part of our team."

The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract that prevents the player from signing him with another team, and pays him the average of the top-five players at his position.

Going the franchise-tag route is a relatively inexpensive option for kickers compared to some other positions. The franchise tag salary for kickers and punters last year was $4.12 million.

Teams have until March 7 at 4 p.m. to apply the franchise tag to pending free agents. The free agency market opens March 15.

The Ravens could use the franchise tag as a short-term measure to allow the two sides to continue working towards a long-term deal beyond March 15. They could tag Tucker to keep him from leaving in free agency and then have the summer to continue negotiations.

Tucker has been one of the NFL's best during his time in Baltimore.

He ranks as the NFL's second-most accurate kicker of all-time. He's connected on 130 of 148 career attempts, good for an 87.8 field-goal percentage.

Tucker has a better overall field-goal percentage than Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who received the biggest kicker deal in the NFL last summer. Gostkowski signed a four-year deal reportedly worth $17.2 million, with $10.1 million guaranteed.

That deal for Gostkowski set the market for premier kickers in the league.

It's unclear what kind of deal Tucker and his agent are seeking, but the kicker expressed hope that they can work out a long-term extension.

"At this juncture, I'm kind of letting it all just unfold how it's going to unfold, and I'm optimistic that something will get done," he said.

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