Franchise tag wipes out edge-rushing market for Lions

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News
The Seattle Seahawks applied the franchise tag to defensive end Frank Clark (55), a former Michigan standout, on Monday.

What once looked to be a deep and talented edge-rushing market, has been decimated thanks to the NFL's franchise tag. 

One day before Tuesday's deadline, three teams placed the franchise tag on a top pass rusher. The Dallas Cowboys tagged DeMarcus Lawrence, the Seattle Seahawks, Frank Clark (Michigan); and the Houston Texans, Jadeveon Clowney. 

Those, combined with the report the tag will be used on Dee Ford by the Chiefs and a three-year extension signed by Brandon Graham (Michigan) in Philadelphia, have thinned out the market place for edge defenders.

Also tagged this year were Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, Buccaneers offensive tackle Donovan Smith, and 49ers kicker Robbie Gould, making an already underwhelming crop of free agents even more dismal. 

The supply figures to drive up the price tag on edges who will be available to sign next week, including New England's Trey Flowers and second-tier talent Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith. 

That's not ideal for the Detroit Lions, who should be in the market for a pass-rusher capable of disrupting the pocket. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers finished with 64 pressures last season, 10th among edge defenders. 

Meanwhile, Za'Darius Smith had a career-high 59 in Baltimore, while Preston Smith racked up 53 for Washington. 

Romeo Okwara, who recently signed a two-year extension with the Lions, led the team with 39 pressures last season.