The Detroit Lions will be voyeurs when the two-week window for NFL teams to use the franchise tag opens Tuesday, watching as others use the device to keep top pass rushers off the market but having no use for the designation themselves.
The Lions have used the tag twice on defensive ends in the last seven seasons, franchising Ziggy Ansah last year and Cliff Avril in 2012, but they have no legitimate candidates among their 14 unrestricted free agents this offseason.
Ansah, who made $17.143 million in 2018, is an unrestricted free agent for the second straight year but not a candidate for another tag — and the 20 percent raise that would come with it — after delivering just four sacks and 11 tackles in seven games.
He played just 146 defensive snaps last season because of recurring shoulder problems and finished the year on injured reserve.
Four other players who started at least eight games for the Lions last season are ticketed for unrestricted free agency — tight ends Levine Toilolo and Luke Willson, defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois and running back LeGarrette Blount — but all four are expected to hit the open market.
While the Lions don’t have any legitimate tag candidates this offseason, they will be keeping close tabs on what others across the league do.