RSO Writers League Journal: Tagging & Rookie Draft Order

Will Bramel allow Cutler to light up on the field? Photo by Mike Shadle.

My team’s franchise player. Find out why. Photo by Mike Shadle.

A pre-draft trade for Alfred Morris involving a first-round pick, a team franchising a kicker, and Waldman trying to explain his madness? Learn more about the fascinating decisions for RSO leagues.

I’ll be writing monthly about events in the Reality Sports Online Writers League that I’m running with the likes of Sigmund Bloom, Mike Clay, Bob Harris, and 11 others as its participants.  July is about tagging franchise players, setting the rookie draft, and the pre-draft/free agency deals owners are making around the league. We already have a pre-draft deal that’s a multi-player trade for an early first-round pick and there’s worthwhile discussion about whom to award a franchise tag.

In case you haven’t heard of RSO’s site and leagues, here’s the quick rundown: It’s a contract-keeper-hybrid-auction league site that two former employees of the Philadelphia Eagles. One of the owners was a former capologist with the Eagles. The pair developed and earned industry awards for its auction application that uses realistic NFL salaries in the free agent bidding and contract management process. If you want more details, read my review.

If you want to create your own league, use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount and check out the auction room in action. Pretty cool stuff. My regular readers that have created RSO leagues love it.

This is year two of the RSO Writers League. Rotoworld’s Evan Silva and Sirius XM’s Matt Deutsch have joined the league – replacing Lance Zierlein and Bryan Fotaine, whose outside commitments forced them to withdraw from participation this year. I always enjoy competing with Silva and Bob Harris recommended Deutsch, who is in another RSO league.

2013 Champion

PFF’s Mike Clay earned the 2013 Championship, defeating Football Diehards Bob Harris 104-96.  Clay’s roster was a mix of players that few would say looked like the makings of a championship team entering the season, but deft management from Clay was the signature statement of his inseason performance.

Players in bold are notable contributors still under contract. Players in italics are notable free agents.


  • Nick Foles – One of the few free agent QBs in this league in 2014.
  • Drew Brees – Still under contract.

Running Backs

  • Matt Forte – 2014 free agent. I expect Forte to garner top-dollar, but with a shorter deal. We’ll see.
  • Danny Woodhead  – 2014 free agent. Quality flex-option.
  • Andre Ellington – A player Mike offered me multiple times for Cecil Shorts. I’m regretting my caution.
  • Marcus Lattimore – Still under contract.
  • Knile Davis – Still under contract.
  • Brandon Bolden – 2014 free agent.
  • Daryl Richardson – 2014 free agent.
  • Kendall Hunter – 2014 free agent.
  • Toby Gerhart – 2014 free agent. I would expect Gerhart’s offer to be pretty low for a starter, but fantasy writers have their faves and all it takes is two to drive up the price.

Wide Receivers

  • Aldrick Robinson – 2014 free agent.
  • Rod Streater – 2014 free agent.
  • Michael Floyd – Still under contract.  Quality WR3 with WR1 upside, in my opinion.
  • Mario Manningham – 2014 free agent.
  • Andre Holmes – 2014 free agent.
  • Denarius Moore – Still under contract.
  • Brice Butler – 2014 free agent.
  • Brandon LaFell – 2014 free agent.
  • Victor Cruz – Still under contract.  Quality WR2 with WR1 upside.
  • Roddy White – 2014 free agent. Will someone pay for a potential rebound season?

Tight Ends

  • Ladarius Green – 2014 free agent. I expect some long-term offers coming fast and furious.
  • Jason Witten – 2014 free agent. Another likely short-term deal.
  • Zach Ertz – Still under contract.
  • Mychal Rivera – 2014 free agent.
  • Travis Kelce – Still under contract. I made an offer to Clay for Shorts last week, but he turned me down flat.


  • Detroit – 2014 free agent.
  • Tampa – 2014 free agent.
  • Indianapolis – 2014 free agent.

 2014 Draft Order

While there is a serpentine option for RSP rookie drafts, I chose a standard NFL-based order:

  1. Evan Silva (taking over Lance Zierlein’s team)
  2. Mike MacGregor
  3. Tim Stafford
  4. Mike MacGregor (earning Rivers’ McCown’s pick – see trade details below)
  5. Matt Papson
  6. Ryan McCowell
  7. Jason Wood
  8. Matt Deutsch (taking over Bryan Fontaine’s team)
  9. Matt Waldman
  10. Jeff Tefertiller
  11. Sigmund Bloom
  12. Jim Day
  13. Bob Harris
  14. Mike Clay

This morning, McCown and MacGregor consummated a deal that includes McCown sending TE Tyler Eifert and his 1.04 selection to MacGregor for RB Alfred Morris a 2.02 pick and MacGregor’s 2015 second-round pick. MacGregor has Lamar Miller, Trent Richardson, and LeVeon Bell under contract and with Tony Gonzalez retired, MacGregor had a hole at this position.

MacGregors’ passing corps currently under contract include Tom Brady, Ryan Nassib, Vincent Jackson, and Kenny Stills. Two first-round picks will also net the FFToday writer  additional help at QB or WR.

McCown’s RB corps before the Morris deal features Doug Martin, Stepfan Taylor, and Theo Riddick. McCown lacks a quality tight end and his only four non-RBs under contract are Cam Newton, Andre Johnson, Justin Hunter, and Mohamed Sanu. Not a bad core group, but for a 30-player roster, McCown will be very active in free agency.

Franchise Tags

One prominent feature of RSO’s leagues is the ability to have contracts spanning 1-4 years and the option to place a franchise tag on a player whose contact is at the end of its final year.

Each team has the ability to use one franchise tag each off-season on a player from its own team whose contract has expired. The exclusive franchise tag is calculated the same way the exclusive franchise tag is calculated in real life, the greater of (a) the average of the 5 highest paid players at a given position, which is unique to each league, or (b) 120% of the player’s previous year salary. Players can be franchised in two consecutive seasons, but may not be franchised a third consecutive season. – See more at:

Matt Deutsch already franchised quarterback Matt Stafford for a total of $22.8 million. Scanning his roster, it’s a sound move because other than Nick Foles and Carson Palmer, I haven’t seen too many veteran quarterbacks that will hit the market in our league. Deutsch will be releasing Jake Locker to the free agent pool with this move.  With a core of Dez Bryant, Larry Fitzgerald, DeMarco Murray, Dwayne Bowe, and Cordarrelle Patterson also under contract, Matt should be a contender in 2014.

Jeff Terfertiller franchised tight end Julius Thomas for a total of $11.4 million. Thomas’ 2013 deal was $500K when he received Thomas from me in an in season deal for get this . . . Terrell Pryor. Seems like a horrible deal on my end, but the dynamics of this league make it a lot more reasonable than it sounds.

The deal was made in mid-October when my starting QB  Jay Cutler got hurt and my only starting QB  was Carson Palmer. Pryor was scoring well early in the year and I had Thomas on a one-year deal. If I wanted to keep Thomas I’d have to franchise him in 2014 and it was clear to me that I would need to franchise a quarterback.

Most of the teams in the league tied up the starting-caliber quarterbacks to long-term deals. When I was on the losing end of a bidding war with Jim Day for Russell Wilson last summer I opted for two veteran options for cheaper deals and figured I’d franchise one of them. Cutler is that by for $19 million. With a $130 million cap, I’ll take it — especially with my cap management (see below).

While I gave away Thomas, I also had Vernon Davis and I still led the league in points scored. While I wish I could have gotten more for Thomas, I took a shot on upside that failed, but didn’t cripple my team at all.

Jason Wood has franchised a kicker. Yep, Seahawks foot Steven Hauschka to a $600 K deal. Sounds nutty, right? Well, Wood has Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers, Demaryius Thomas, Reggie Bush, Philip Rivers, Eddie Lacy, and Jared Cook under contract. That’s a pretty expensive group of options and he doesn’t have a ton of cap room for free agents.  I can see why Wood has balked at paying Emmanuel Sanders, Rashad Jennings, or Riley Cooper top-dollar. I’d probably take the risk with Sanders, but Wood’s a smart dude and makes sound financial decisions for a living. Who am I to second-guess?

Cutler became my franchise player because I didn’t want to get into a bidding war for Nick Foles. My other options were Seattle’s high-scoring defense, Vernon Davis, or Steven Jackson. Davis was tempting, but there will be enough tight ends on the market for me to have choices. Cutler’s $19 million salary is almost five times higher than what I paid for him last year, but compared to what I’d have to pay for a non-QB, it’s reasonable. Plus, I still have hope that Cutler can perform as one of the top 7-8 fantasy passers in 2014.

With Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Keenan Allen, Cecil Shorts, Arian Foster, and Ben Tate  as my core players under contract, Cutler should be good enough for me to contend once again.

Next Time

I’ll profile more franchise tag decisions and review our rookie draft.

Remember,  if you want to create your own league, use the promotion code RSP20%OFF to earn a 20 percent discount.




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