As expected, the Cardinals placed the franchise tag on defensive end Calais Campbell Friday, virtually assuring the team will not lose him for the 2012 season while still trying to work out a long-term contract.
Campbell received the “non-exclusive” tag, meaning another team can attempt to sign him to a deal. If that happened, the Cardinals would have a chance to match the deal and if they did not, the Cards would receive two first-round draft picks from the team signing Campbell.
“We’ve made no secret of the high regard in which we hold Calais,” general manager Rod Graves said. “To be clear, reaching a long-term deal that will keep Calais with the Cardinals for years to come remains our primary objective. This move today allows us the opportunity to continue working with Calais and his agent toward that goal and that’s exactly what we will do.”
The deadline for putting the tag on players is Monday.
Once Campbell signs the tender offer – and he is not obligated to do so – his salary for 2012 will become guaranteed. The official franchise tag numbers have not been released, but it is estimated that for a defensive end it will be worth around $11 million.
The Cards have been in talks with Campbell for weeks about an extension and Graves said at the recent Scouting combine he thought discussions had been “fruitful.” There is still an optimism a long-term deal will eventually be reached. He can be signed to a long-term deal through July 16.
Campbell had a season worthy of Pro Bowl consideration in 2011, finishing with 73 tackles – an impressive total for a 3-4 defensive end – and a career-high eight sacks. He also had an interception, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, 11 tackles for loss and 11 passes knocked down.
That doesn’t even include the three blocked field goals for the 6-foot-8 Campbell.
In late January, Campbell said he understood he might be getting the tag and wasn’t upset about it.
“I mean, if that’s the worst-case scenario, it’s not too bad,” Campbell said. “The only thing that kind of sucks about it is that you don’t have security for the future. But I am one of those guys who kind of takes it as it comes. Whatever happens, happens. A long-term deal would be nice, if we can see eye-to-eye. But if it comes to the franchise tag, I really feel like it’s good. I’m still able to play football, I’m still living the dream.”
On Twitter Friday, Campbell wrote "Well, I'm happy to be a Cardinal for at least one more year but I look forward to the possibility of getting a long-term deal done as well."
The Cards last used the franchise tag on linebacker Karlos Dansby, who was tagged in back-to-back seasons in 2008 and 2009. Dansby never signed an extension and left as a free agent in 2010 to sign in Miami.