We are in the midst of the franchise tag window but it's nearing its close. As of Monday, teams looking to keep their own players on the franchise tag must do it or risk losing them as free agents. All along the only candidates for that tag on the Raiders has been left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston - with Veldheer being the sensible choice between the two.
It isn't that Houston isn't valuable to the Raiders, it's more that the franchise tag for defensive ends is a hefty $13 million while the offensive lineman franchise tag is a somewhat more manageable $11.6 million. In that regard, the transition tag makes far more sense for Houston.
The Transition tag figure this season is $10.6 million. What it does is allow the Raiders the right of first refusal of a team looking to sign him. That would allow him to get his market value. If the Raiders disagree with the figure the other club offers him, they can choose not to bring him back. My guess is the offer would be more in the range of $8-9 million per season which the Raiders would likely match.
Here's catch -- Teams cannot use both the franchise tag and the transition tag in the same year. So, if they slap Houston with the transition tag, they would be unable to use the franchise tag on Veldheer.
Veldheer has said he doesn't want to be slapped with the franchise tag. The best bet for the Raiders would be to sign him long term before Monday's deadline so as to leave them to option of putting the transition tag on Lamarr Houston.
Once the transition tag is in place, the Raiders can continue to try and work out a long term deal with Houston at which point they would rescind the transition tag in favor of the new contract. If he hits the market and another team signs him to a deal, the Raiders then have seven days to match.