The Green Bay Packers will use the franchise tag on nose tackle Ryan Pickett, according to NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora.
The move is somewhat of a surprise considering Pickett isn’t an every down player and the Packers chose nose tackle B.J. Raji with their top choice in the 2009 draft, but quality nose tackles are hard to find. As we mentioned earlier this offseason, Pickett, who would be an unrestricted free agent, was the Packers top free agent priority from day one.
The franchise tag ensures Pickett will not hit the open market on March 5.
Pickett recorded 33 tackles in 13 games for the Packers in 2009, but that doesn’t really illustrate how valuable he is to the team. At 6-2, 330 pounds, Pickett is the perfect size to clog up the middle in the Packers 3-4 defense, which is his main responsibility.
Under the franchise tag nose tackles will be paid $7.003 million in 2010, but the Packers have been working on a long-term deal for Pickett, who will turn 31 during the 2010 season. Expect the yearly salary to be lower when the actual contract is signed.
Pickett will join the Patriots’ Vince Wilfork and 49ers’ Aubrayo Franklin as nose tackles who have received the franchise tag. The Steelers’ Casey Hampton is expected to receive the franchise tag as well.