Originally posted on Three-Way Chili  |  Last updated 3/6/12

Remember last year when the Bengals decided against using the franchise tag on cornerback Johnathan Joseph? Yeah, bad idea. And this is far from “hindsight is 20/20.” I was extremely outspoken at the time that the Bengals were making a foolish decision to allow Joseph to test the free agent market, as you can see from this blog post.

However, when it comes to using the franchise tag on kickers, no one can match the Bengals. For the second time in four years, they’ve tagged a kicker. In 2009, it was Shayne Graham. Now, it’s Mike Nugent.

Listen, I’m a big Nugent fan. He’s been excellent during his two years as the Bengals’ kicker and the fact that he’s also the best kicker in Ohio State history makes me extra-biased in the pro-Nuge camp. Since there is really no one else on the team worth tagging this year, I don’t mind the Bengals using it on Nugent, who will make $2.6 million in 2012. It gives the team another season to make sure that the Centerville native is the team’s long-term choice to be their kicker. It also gives Nuge a lot more cash than you have. (And probably more than he ever thought he would make in the NFL again after being released by three teams, including the organization that made him a second-round draft pick in 2005: the Jets.)

The problem here is the Bengals’ front office proved its ineptness once again last year by not tagging Joseph. If some random blogger knew it was a poor move, the team most certainly should have as well. Franchising Joseph was the absolute obvious move and the Bengals blew it.

But don’t just take my word for it. Check out this roasting of Mike Brown and his front office compadres (i.e. everyone in his family) from Rivers McCown from Football Outsiders. In regards to the tagging of Nugent, combined with the non-tagging of Joseph last year, McCown didn’t hold back:

“The reasoning behind this tag is sound,” McCown wrote. “Nugent had a nice season for Cincinnati, and the Bengals – who according to our projections look to have around $60 million in cap space – aren't likely to be squeezed by the projected $2.6 million franchise tag.

“However, this tag helps continue Nugent's history as the poster child for the overvaluation of kickers. Nugent was drafted as a second-round pick by the Jets in 2005, then endeared himself so much in New York that the team sent him packing four years later for his inconsistency. He washed out of Tampa and Arizona, won a camp battle to become the Bengals kicker in 2010, then seriously injured his knee in November of that year to end his season.

“The fact that the Bengals consider him worthy of a franchise tag while they let Johnathan Joseph walk last year without one is a terrific example of the kind of silliness that has kept them from fielding a consistent winner.”

Preach on, brother.

Now the Bengals will likely reach for a corner early in April’s draft. Also, Leon Hall (who they did sign to a long-term deal) ruptured his Achilles tendon during the 2011 season, which is a tough injury to come back from. I have no doubt Hall will play again, but will he ever be the same?

And for the people saying the Bengals couldn’t have kept two high-priced corners, I say “Why not?” Did you see the part about being a projected $60 million under the cap? Of course, we all know Brown won’t spend all the way to the cap or even close – he never does – but the point is that the Bengals most-certainly could have kept both Hall and Joseph.

However, the team made the foolish decision to allow Joseph to test the free agent waters when they could have franchised him last year. And guess what: If they would have done so, instead of tagging Nugent this year, they could have used the tag on Joseph once again this season.

These are the kind of mistakes good NFL franchises do not make.

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