Falcons will use franchise tag on punter Koenen

(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)

(Steve Dykes / Getty Images)

No big surprise that Patriots QB Matt Cassel was the first player to be franchised this offseason. But the second player expected to receive the tag is unexpected.

The Falcons will slap their franchise tag on undrafted free-agent punter Michael Koenen, league sources said Monday. The franchise punter tag — which rarely is used — carries with it a $2.48 million salary, the average of the top five highest-paid punters in the NFL.

However, the Raiders’ Shane Lechler will become the highest-paid punter in NFL history this offseason with a deal that some are projecting to be over $4 million per season.

Koenen would have been the other pursued punter but not anymore. An undrafted free agent from Western Washington, Koenen has averaged 42.7 yards per punt, but he’s the only NFL punter who also kicks off. His kickoff skills are valued, as is his ability to place the ball inside the opponent’s 20-yard line on punts.

Todd Sauerbrun is the only punter to ever receive the franchise tag.  Sauerbrun was tagged by the Panthers in 2003.

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