The Ravens are quickly coming up on the point of no return on contract talks with players. With guys like Justin Tucker, Marshall Yanda, and Kelechi Osemele needing to have a contract or face the free agent market, The Ravens will face some pressure on who they should apply the franchise tag to.
Of course, the case can be made for every player on this list, we'll look at why each one makes sense.
Tucker presents the most consistent weapon the Ravens have on the roster. With a set of kickers past that have disappointed the Ravens and ruined Championship runs, the Ravens will likely want to see Tucker continue to wear purple. Well that and the rest of the teams in the NFL will get into a bidding war for a young kicker that can hit 60+ field goals and has one of the best field goal percentages in the entire league. He won't come cheap and there is a reason for that.
Yanda might be entering the wrong side of 30 for a football player, but he has been absolutely the most consistent player for Baltimore over the years. An anchor on the offensive line for years, he has helped mold and outright bailed out several other offensive linemen over his career simply by being the best player on the roster. The Ravens have tried to work out a deal with Yanda this offseason and have made him a priority, but haven't been able to seal the deal. The Ravens could franchise tag Yanda after the season if they feel that he has a few more years left in him and that they can work out a deal that is favorable to both Yanda and the Ravens organization. Either way, he will be one of the highest paid offensive lineman in the league because of his play, toughness, and consistency.
Osemele has had his ups and downs over his short career, mostly due to injury. But when healthy, he shows all the promise to be the next Marshall Yanda. The Ravens are likely moving on from Yanda's contract talks to focus on Osemele as the offseason wears on, but if a deal can't get done, they could decide that they would rather see Osemele in a Ravens' uniform than Yanda due to their ages and the upside that Osemele brings with him. That extra time to make a deal happen would be worth the franchise tag cost for a left guard.
Upshaw is a guy that most people wouldn't think of for a franchise tag simply because most people assume that he won't break out this year. With other outside linebackers getting older, Upshaw will have a little more of a chance this season to make noise on the field. As we've seen with guys like Paul Kruger and Adalius Thomas, the Ravens breed guys that get big contracts elsewhere. If the Ravens feel that Upshaw is a guy that can continue to develop as a player and eventually take the place of Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil, they could hand him a franchise tag in order to gain some time to make a deal with him.