The first of the three potential franchise tag candidates we're going to have a look at. . .and he's first because we're going in alphabetical order. . .is defensive end Ray Edwards. Edwards, who turned 26 on January 1, was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of Purdue University, the 127th overall pick. Here's a look at how Edwards has performed for the Vikings since he joined the team.
As soon as I can find the yards lost on Edwards' sacks in every other year of his career, I'll pop them into the table here.
The Vikings have invested heavily in their defensive line over the past few years, and they've largely had good results thanks to Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Jared Allen being among the best at their positions during the majority of their tenures in Minnesota. Ray Edwards has been the beneficiary of the presence of those three gentlemen, particularly over the last couple of years as he's racked up 16.5 regular season sacks, and set a Vikings' record for sacks in a single post-season with four in 2009 against Dallas and New Orleans. With the drop-off from Pat Williams this year and a slightly less productive season from Allen than we're used to, Edwards managed to maintain his production, which might be a sign that he's peaking at the right time.
Edwards hasn't been without his issued, however. In 2007, he served a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy, forcing him to miss a stretch run where the Vikings needed to win games to get to the post-season (and, ultimately, failed to do so). He's also been called for more than his fair share of personal foul penalties over the past couple years. . .although, in his defense, at least a couple of them were complete garbage calls.
If the Vikings want to keep Edwards around, it's going to come with a very hefty price tag. The franchise tag figure for a defensive end in 2010 was $12.4 million dollars, the highest figure for any non-quarterback position on the field. While Edwards is a talented player and everything, between that kind of figure and the money that Jared Allen will make this upcoming season (just under $9 million), that's a whole lot of money for a team with as many holes as the Vikings have to invest in two players. There's also the question of how Edwards would react to being franchised. . .he seemed to be looking quite forward to hitting restricted free agency, and wasn't pleased when the Vikings tendered him at a first-round level when the CBA kept him from exploring that option.
In my own personal opinion, I think that Edwards is the least likely of our three potential options to have the franchise tag put on him. The price tag would, I believe, make him Minnesota's highest-paid player in 2011, and I just don't see the Vikings making that sort of investment in Edwards at this point in time.