NFL teams can begin using franchise tags on their prospective free agents today but don’t expect the Buffalo Bills to use that option on wide receiver Stevie Johnson.
A league source told The Buffalo News that Johnson isn’t expecting to receive the franchise tag from the Bills, and despite swapping contract proposals recently the two sides are far apart on negotiations. The franchise tag option hasn’t been discussed during negotiations with Johnson, the source told The News.
Johnson’s agent, C.J. LaBoy, was unavailable for comment.
The Associated Press first reported the development citing a person familiar with discussions. Johnson’s representatives countered a Bills offer last week and the two sides agreed to meet at this week’s NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
The Bills haven’t applied the franchise tag since 2006, when they designated cornerback Nate Clements, the team’s first-round pick and 21st pick overall in 2001. Clements signed the $7.2 million offer, under the condition the team would allow him to become a free agent the following season. Clements exercised that option and became, at the time, the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history after signing an eight-year, $80 million deal, with $22 million guaranteed, with the San Francisco 49ers.
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