Franchise Tag Deadline: Close Eye on McCourty

If Devin McCourty avoids the Patriots' franchise tag, could he end up as a top target for the Bucs?

The deadline for teams around the NFL to use their respective franchise tags is on Monday at 4:00. It shouldn't come as a surprise to any Bucs fans that the Bucs will not be using their franchise tag yet again because their impending free agents are not worthy of it. However, there are potential free agents for other teams that the Bucs will have a keen eye on today to see if they avoid the dreaded franchise tag.

I'm hearing the Bucs would love to have a shot at Patriots safety Devin McCourty in free agency. The 27 year old McCourty is easily the top safety available in both free agency and the draft. Despite the Bucs having hope at a shot for McCourty's services, it appears the Patriots are likely to retain his services.

"I've kind of broken it down as the worst-case scenario would be that I get franchised and come back to play for another year here," McCourty said to "To me that's no reason to stress. I love it here. The franchise tag is player-friendly now. It's a good number. There's no reason really for me to be stressed. If I hit free agency, I hope there's some teams that want me to play there. Hopefully that goes over well. It's still exciting."

If the Patriots do in fact place the team's franchise tag on McCourty, the Bucs might turn to addressing their safety need in the draft. A name I continue to hear at safety in the draft is Eric Rowe out of Utah. Rowe played cornerback at Utah, but his size and instincts could have him play either corner or safety in the NFL.

Rowe was impressive at the combine, standing 6'1'' and 205 lbs, running a 4.45 40-yard dash, and putting up 19 reps on the bench. On film, Rowe made some impressive plays, but was also beat deep at times. Right now, I project Rowe as a late 3rd to early 4th round pick.

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