Pre-Combine League Insider

We have detailed analysis on why the Cincinnati Bengals chose to use their franchise tag on Stacy Andrews...Will the Arizona Cardinals keep OLB Calvin Pace?...Will CB Nnamdi Asomugha make it to free agency?...More on those situations and others in the pre-combine insider.

The Cincinnati Bengals made what some would call a surprising move on Monday by slapping the franchise tag on OL Stacy Andrews.

Andrews will be paid salary equal to the average of the top five offensive linemen in the NFL for the previous season. The move by Cincinnati will pay Andrews $7.455 million for the 2008 season but he won't receive a signing bonus once he signs the franchise tender.

What's interesting here is some believed the team would use their franchise tag on DE Justin Smith for the second straight year. Instead, the team used it on a younger player with a greater upside.

"Stacy has been a productive young player for us," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday. "He has shown the flexibility to start and play well at a number of different positions on our line. This move helps us keep our core players together, and it gives us an opportunity to continue negotiating for a longer-term contract with Stacy."

League sources believe Andrews will eventually take over the right tackle job once starter Willie Anderson decides to retire. Until then, he'll be used as a backup at right tackle and will compete for playing time at left guard.

Smith, despite Cincinnati not showing much interesting in re-signing him, should find plenty of interest elsewhere due to the dearth of talent at the position projected to make it to free agency in less than two weeks.

In other recent league news, the Arizona Cardinals placed their franchise tag on ILB Karlos Dansby. The four-year veteran is coming off of his best season. In 2007, Dansby posted a career-high 177 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 8 passes defensed. What scouts really like is the versatility he showed last season in defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's scheme.

A team source told that OLB Calvin Pace is less than a 50-50 shot to re-sign with Arizona at this point. Pace, who was a backup at defensive end the previous three seasons, is coming off of a breakout season after moving to outside linebacker with 98 combined tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 6 passes defensed. Pace took over the starting job after OLB Chike Okeafor suffered a torn biceps tendon during training camp.

League sources say the Oakland Raiders will use their franchise tag on CB Nnamdi Asomugha by Thursday's deadline. Both sides aren't close to a long-term deal and Oakland feels they can't afford to lose Asomugha who is known as one of the better man coverage defensive backs in the NFL.

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