If the Bears are looking to sign one of the top free agent running backs they might find it difficult due to low tag figures.
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The franchise tag numbers have been released by the NFL and it doesn't bode well for anyone hoping the Bears could sign one of the top free agent running backs instead of bringing back their own free agent, David Montgomery.
It also paints a glum picture for running backs in general. The position has been undervalued over the course of the last decade and now the franchise tags show just how much.
The running backs have a franchise tag of $10.091 million, which is the lowest of any position except kicker/punter.
Next lowest is $11.345 million for tight ends.
If the New York Giants wanted to keep Saquon Barkley or the Raiders Josh Jacobs for next year, the franchise tag pay is such a reasonable amount they could likely find a way to do it. A report by FOX Sports' Ralph Vacchiano said Barkley is looking to be paid on par with 49ers running back Christian McCaffery, who leads all backs at $16 million a year but the low tags discourage this.
The Giants have the third-highest amount of cap space for 2023 anyway, at $44.3 million. The Raiders are ninth best at $20.1 million.
They could also find ways to create more cap space to pay the franchise tag amount if they want.
Tony Pollard, Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Kareem Hunt and Devin Singletary are some of the other top backs who could be free agents.
The tags can begin to be applied Feb. 21 and teams have until March 7 to do it.
The Bears haven't signed free agent running back David Montgomery to a new contract yet and there is a good amount of speculation they might be looking at replacing him in free agency or the draft.
It's not quite the same at other positions, like offensive line or wide receiver.
One point of interest is the linebacker figure. The Bears would have had to pay even more for one year using the tag than the average annual amount for the deal Roquan Smith eventually got from Baltimore if they had wanted to retain him without a new deal. Smith got a five-year, $100 million deal from the Ravens, average annual salary of $20 million. However, $60 million of that amount was guaranteed.
The franchise amount is $20.926 million for linebackers, second only to quarterbacks ($32.416 million).
Transition free agent tags for running backs are $8.429 million.
Figures via Spotrac.com
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