As the franchise tag window is now open for business – running through the second half of February – we are likely to find out shortly the status of Jared Veldheer. The key question is will he sign the long-term deal he is reportedly looking for, or will we tag him, or indeed will Veldheer test free agency. Personally I hope he signs a long term deal, but I doubt it will happen, instead I think he’ll get the dreaded tag.
The problem with Veldheer is that essentially he is a very good LT, but I don’t think he is yet elite. Unfortunately he will probably demand elite money in a long-term deal, which we would be foolish to offer. True if we franchise tag him we also have to pay top-dollar, but its then only for one year, hence we get more time to properly assess.
Two positives exist, from a Raiders perspective, on Veldheer:-
(1) If anyone is a good judge of OT talent it is our OL coach Tony Sparano. We are lucky to have him, and I’m sure Reggie has his ear….if he hasn’t get it!!
(2) The looming OL talent pool is also fairly deep this year. Not only are Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson excellent draft prospects, that our number five draft spot leave pen to us, but the potential FA market is also fairly strong this year….thus, due to simply market forces, cheap. Notable looming FA OT’s this year include Brandon Albert, Jordan Gross, Michael Oher, Eugene Monroe, Anthony Collins and even (at a false-start stretch) our own Khalif Barnes. I don’t think the Chiefs can afford to franchise tag Brandon Albert for a second consecutive year, and lets be honest Barnes is a much more complete player than Veldheer. Plus all the usual concerns over Albert’s health cannot simply be ignored for Veldheer, who missed most of 2013 due to a badly timed injury. On Jordan Gross, I know he has stated that he only wants to return to the Panthers, but lets be honest Veldheer has said similar about us, which I like but doubt such talk is little more than spin.
I love Jared Veldheer and I imagine he will be tagged, but I think the most sensible strategy for all concerned would be for him (but mainly his agent) to lower their unrealistic demands and accept a top-15 type talent deal and stop looking for what he isn’t (but hopefully will become), and that is a top-5 deal.