A source close to the situation said Monday the Eagles "probably won't" use the franchise tag this year -- today is the first day it's eligible to be applied. This more or less confirms a report by Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com that the Birds won't use the tag, and specifically won't use it on corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Tagging DRC would give him a one-year, $10.668 million contract for the 2013 season. That's more money than the key figure in the 2011 Kevin Kolb trade with Arizona has proved he is worth, and probably more than he will get per year on the free agent market.
DRC turns 27 in April. That 2009 Pro Bowl berth is no longer so recent. Last season, he started out as the best player on the defense -- big, fast, sharp, confident. As the defense devolved, so did Rodgers-Cromartie, to the extent that former coach Andy Reid sat him down for a "pull yourself together and play" chat toward the end of the season.
Obvious talent aside, that's not the kind of personality you build a defense around, the kind of guy you can depend on when the going gets tough, which is why Arizona made him available three years after drafting him 16th overall. (Things that seem too good to be true often are, the Daily News has learned.)
The problem with not tagging DRC is that the Eagles are expected to part with their other 2012 CB starter, the even more disappointing Nnamdi Asomugha, and they have to play somebody back there in 2013. Given that the safety position is even more of a disaster area, getting rid of DRC could mean a lot of draft and free agency resources expended on the secondary, when there are other needs to be filled, especially with the Eagles expected to transition to a 3-4 defense.
Of course, not tagging Rodgers-Cromartie doesn't mean he's gone. The Eagles can still work out a deal, they just can't be as sure of locking him up as they could be if they used the tag. Hard to say what the market will be; other teams watch tape as well. I don't think anybody is foaming at the mouth to make DRC a gazillionaire off of what he did here, in 2011 as a miscast slot corner or in 2012 as a confused mess.
It's interesting that the Arizona defensive coordinator in 2009, Billy Davis, now runs the Eagles' defense. Even more interesting that Davis was noncommital last week when reporters pressed him on whether he would like to coach DRC again.