Ravens place franchise tag on Tucker, per his agent

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INDIANAPOLIS — The Ravens have followed through with general manager Ozzie Newsome’s vow to use the franchise tag on kicker Justin Tucker if a long-term agreement couldn’t be reached by month’s end.
Tucker’s agent, Robert Roche, announced via Twitter that Baltimore has placed the franchise tag on the 26-year-old ahead of Tuesday’s deadline for NFL teams to use the designation. Newsome said Wednesday in Indianapolis that the Ravens would use the tag with the intention of signing the 2013 Pro Bowl selection to a long-term deal.
The fact that the Ravens have used the tag with a few days to spare indicates that an agreement on a long-term deal wasn’t close.
The franchise tag for kickers and punters is projected to be around $4.5 million, which would not do their salary cap any favors as the Ravens began the week projected to have the second-lowest amount of cap space in the NFL. Teams must be in compliance with the salary cap when free agency begins on March 9, but the cap has yet to be set for the 2016 season.
A framework for a potential long-term deal with Tucker was created when New England signed longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski to a four-year, $17.2 million deal last summer, which made him the highest paid at his position in NFL history. Baltimore have until July 15 to sign Tucker to a long-term extension to avoid him playing out the coming season under the franchise amount.
Tucker is the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history since being signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas in 2012. However, he struggled on field goal attempts from 50 yards and beyond in 2015, going 4-for-10 while missing only one attempt inside 50.
Newsome has signed the last four players on which he’s used the tag — running back Ray Rice, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, linebacker Terrell Suggs, and cornerback Chris McAlister — to long-term contracts.