Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson estimates that the franchise tag will place Nugent's 2012 salary at $2.6 million. Nugent could still accept an offer, but the team signing him would owe Cincinnati two first round draft picks as compensation.
Nugent completed his second season as a Bengal, coming back from knee surgery that knocked him out in 2010. He responded well recording a career high 132 points. He connected on 33 of 38 of his field goal attempts and 33 of 34 extra point attempts this season. Nugent was perfect from inside 30 yards, made five of eight kicks between 31 and 40 yards and was a sparkling 14 for 16 with kicks from 41 to 50 yards. His long for the year was from 49.
Nugent's 33 field goals were tied for second most in the NFL with Miami's Dan Carpenter. Only David Akers of San Francisco made more, kicking 44 field goals. With the Bengals young offense often sputtering in the red zone, Nugent's consistency was a large part of the team's playoff run this season. Nugent ranked 14th in the league in touchback percentage.
Some had speculated that the Bengals would use the tag on safety Reggie Nelson who is also a free agent. This move means that the team now must try to sign Nelson to a long-term deal in order to keep him.
It's not the first time the team has franchised a kicker. In 2009, the Bengals used the franchise tag on Shayne Graham.
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