If the Minnesota Vikings are going to use their franchise player designation for this season on right tackle Phil Loadholt. . .or anyone else, for that matter. . .in the words of American philosopher Jack Bauer, THEY ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME!
The deadline for establishing someone as a franchise player hits at 3 PM this afternoon, and the Vikings have not tagged Loadholt at this point. In fact, just a year after a record 21 teams designated someone as their franchise player, only about a third of that figure have used the tag this year.
It doesn't appear likely that the Vikings are going to use the tag on Loadholt, if for no other reason than the price tag would be ridiculous. The tag for offensive linemen doesn't differentiate by position, and according to the figures that were released by the NFL, the tag number for an offensive lineman is $9.828 million.
While Loadholt is one of the league's better right tackles, giving him that amount of money. . .which would tie up nearly all of the Vikings' currently available salary cap space. . .would be insane. According to an article put together by 1500 ESPN's Tom Pelissero back in October, only four of the 20 highest-paid offensive tackles in the NFL are right tackles. Right tackles in the NFL just don't make the kind of money that the franchise player designation would entitle them to.
The Vikings really have nobody else they could feasibly use the franchise tag on this off-season. If the formula differentiated between running backs and fullbacks, Jerome Felton could be a candidate. . .but, since it doesn't, it would cost the Vikings $8.219 million to put the tag on Felton. That's not happening, either.
So, we'll have to wait and see if the Vikings put the franchise tag on Phil Loadholt or not. I'm guessing they won't, but you never know.