The “new league year” does not commence until 4 p.m. on March 12, but business begins to pick up today with the start of the period where teams can determine if they want to use the franchise tag. Teams have until 4 p.m. on March 4 to make a decision.

It’s not a question of if the Bengals will use the tag, but on who. In all likelihood, it won’t be cheap. However, expect a statement from head coach Marvin Lewis saying ”This move helps us keep our core players together, and it gives us an opportunity to continue negotiating for a longer-term contract with (insert player’s name here).”

The two under most likely to be tagged are offensive tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Michael Johnson. The official numbers have not come out yet but NFL.com reported in December that the tag for an offensive tackle would be $9.66 million for offensive linemen and $10.984 million for defensive linemen.