Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Green Bay Packers working again Aaron Jones and Los Angeles Chargers tight finish Hunter Henry are targets for the NFL franchise-tag designation getting into the 2021 season.
Previous to NFL free company beginning March 17, every of the 32 groups should consider whether or not they may place a franchise tag on veteran gamers to maintain them off the open market.
The franchise tag is a labor designation that restricts a participant’s potential motion in trade for a excessive one-year wage. Every group can put the franchise tag on one pending free agent, a call that’s expensive but additionally supplies leverage towards dropping a participant, making certain the group a big return if that participant finally departs the membership.
The franchise tag window begins Tuesday, and groups have till March 9 at 4 p.m. ET to put the tag on their Most worthy participant.
Totally different challenges will occur this 12 months for either side as a result of the tags pays much less due to the lowered wage cap, which has a cap floor of $180 million. (The tag is calculated by taking the common of the highest 5 gamers’ cap proportion on the place for the 2020 season or 120% of the participant’s earlier 12 months wage — whichever is larger.)
We requested our NFL Nation reporters to determine the gamers most probably to get tagged and make their predictions on what is going to occur over the following two weeks. By our depend, 21 groups are considering utilizing the franchise tag:
Keanu Neal, security
After lacking practically all the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to accidents, Neal bounced again with 100 tackles and an interception in 2020 whereas taking part in on the fifth-year possibility. Neal thrived in his first two years, too, so he is undoubtedly an impression participant when wholesome. There may be a query of whether or not he suits into the brand new scheme, and that might be the rationale the Falcons do not tag him, however having a constant participant within the secondary is just not one thing to take without any consideration.
Prediction: Neal is an efficient, younger security and is usually a key a part of the protection, so the Falcons tag him. — Michael DiRocco
Matt Milano, linebacker
It is not a really doubtless situation, however there’s a world wherein the Payments apply the franchise tag on Milano in the event that they’re unable to come back to a long-term settlement. He’s Buffalo’s Most worthy free agent — and thus its most tough to signal, doubtless commanding north of $13 million per 12 months in an bizarre offseason. Payments basic supervisor gave Milano his blessing to hunt the most important payday elsewhere, making the franchise tag a attain; you simply by no means know on this league, however do not maintain your breath on this state of affairs.
Prediction: The Payments will not use the franchise tag on Milano. — Marcel Louis-Jacques
It is prohibitive for the Ravens to make use of the tag on both Judon or Ngakoue as a result of it might take up practically all of Baltimore’s salary-cap area to take action, and you can also make the argument that there is not worth to placing the tag on both of them. Judon totaled six sacks final season, and Ngakoue did not appear to be a fantastic match. However the Ravens need to not less than think about it. With out the tag, Judon and Ngakoue are doubtless getting extra profitable offers elsewhere. Given the cap restraints, the Ravens can deal with exterior linebacker by re-signing Tyus Bowser and choosing a pass-rusher early on this 12 months’s draft.
Prediction: The Ravens will not use the tag this 12 months, marking the fourth time in 5 years Baltimore will not tag a participant. — Jamison Hensley
Taylor Moton, proper deal with
Locking down 2017 second-round choose Moton for the upcoming season is a should for a Carolina group that has one beginning offensive lineman (middle Matt Paradis) below contract. Moton allowed three sacks final season and hasn’t missed a begin the previous three seasons. If a long-term deal cannot be reached, the Panthers would use the tag on him, which might price an estimated $13.6 million. Releasing Professional Bowl defensive deal with Kawann Quick provides the group cap room to verify Moton would not get away.
Prediction: The Panthers will use the franchise tag on Moton if a long-term deal can’t be labored out earlier than the brand new league 12 months begins. — David Newton
Carl Lawson, defensive finish
Lawson completed his rookie deal because the Bengals’ most disruptive pass-rusher. Nonetheless, he tallied 5.5 sacks, which may stop the Bengals from paying the franchise tag value an estimated $17.8 million, per Over The Cap. However Lawson is extra disruptive than the uncooked numbers point out. He created 10.5 sacks (by way of an ESPN metric powered by NFL Subsequent Gen Stats), good for seventh within the league final season. As of now, it appears unlikely the Bengals use the tag on Lawson. That being mentioned, do not be shocked if Lawson instructions a excessive wage on the open market.
Prediction: The Bengals will not use the franchise tag on Lawson. — Ben Child
Allen Robinson II, extensive receiver
The Bears’ offense with out Robinson, 27, seems to be fairly grim, which makes tagging the extensive receiver, who caught 120 passes for 1,250 yards and 6 touchdowns final season, a powerful chance. Chicago can also be prioritizing discovering the quarterback who could be throwing Robinson passes and finally may decide whether or not the receiver would wish to signal a long-term deal if tagged. The price of tagging Robinson is $16.4 million. The Bears are already in a good predicament with the wage cap, so that they’ll must create area by restructuring contracts or releasing costly veterans (e.g. Jimmy Graham). It is also sensible to not rule out a tag-and-trade situation for Robinson relying on how issues play out for Chicago in free company.
Prediction: The Bears will use the franchise tag on Robinson. — Courtney Cronin
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Dak Prescott, quarterback
With out a long-term deal by March 9, the Cowboys will tag Prescott for the second straight 12 months and it’ll price $37.7 million towards the cap. It might additionally set in movement the probability that 2021 might be Prescott’s last season in Dallas. These talks are getting into their third offseason, so perhaps the 2 sides will have the ability to discover a compromise. Is Prescott value it? The Cowboys went 4-7 with out him in 2020, and the offense scored one landing within the first three video games Dallas performed after he suffered his ankle harm.
Prediction: The Cowboys will use the franchise tag on Prescott. — Todd Archer
Justin Simmons, security
The Broncos hold saying they wish to work one thing out with Simmons, and Simmons has mentioned he want to keep. However either side additionally say all of it has to come back collectively on their aspect of the negotiating desk, too. In the end, a long-term deal makes probably the most sense, and it doubtless wouldn’t assist issues towards a long-term deal if the group used the franchise tag on the protection for the second consecutive 12 months. Simmons is basically the one participant among the many Broncos’ potential unrestricted free brokers value discussing in relation to the tag, and it might be a possible short-term answer — once more.
Prediction: The Broncos will use the franchise tag on Simmons solely to present them extra time to get a long-term deal executed. — Jeff Legwold
Kenny Golladay, extensive receiver
The Lions have a call to make with their Professional Bowl extensive receiver who missed 11 video games final season due to hamstring and hip accidents. Golladay, 27, gave the impression to be a candidate for a long-term deal below the earlier regime, however that by no means materialized. Now that the Lions are in a rebuild below a brand new head coach/basic supervisor combo in Dan Campbell and Brad Holmes, the franchise should resolve whether or not to signal Golladay to a long-term extension, tag him, tag him with the potential intent to commerce him or let him stroll. Detroit, which wants extensive receivers desperately, may do any of these issues contemplating its multiyear plan to return to competitiveness.
Prediction: The Lions will use the franchise tag on Golladay. — Michael Rothstein
Aaron Jones, working again
The Packers weren’t prepared to ensure a good portion of the contract they supplied Jones through the season, however they’d clearly like him again. Tagging him may be their best choice, securing his companies for yet another season at round $11 million. However there are two issues to contemplate: the problem of becoming that tag below the wage cap and Jones’ potential unwillingness to play for the tag.
Prediction: The Packers will not use the franchise tag on Jones. — Rob Demovsky
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Will Fuller V, extensive receiver
In 2020, Fuller was effectively on his strategy to proving he may keep wholesome and be a No. 1 extensive receiver earlier than he was suspended for violating the NFL’s coverage on performance-enhancing substances. Even after Fuller was suspended, quarterback Deshaun Watson mentioned he wished the receiver again in 2021. Might the Texans tag Fuller to attempt to make Watson change his thoughts about wanting a commerce? Possibly. Houston saved $17.5 million by releasing J.J. Watt and produce other gamers they might launch or contracts they’ll restructure to make the $16.4 million franchise tag work.
Prediction: The Texans will not use the franchise tag on Fuller. — Sarah Barshop
Hunter Henry, tight finish
Henry, 26, was franchised final season due to harm considerations. He performed in all however the final two video games of this season after being positioned on the reserve/COVID-19 listing. If the Chargers franchise tag him for a second straight 12 months, his 2021 wage shall be $12.7 million. The 6-foot-5 tight finish had a standout season with 60 receptions, 613 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. The Chargers want a dependable goal for quarterback Justin Herbert.
Prediction: The Chargers will use the franchise tag on Henry. — Shelley Smith
Cam Robinson, left deal with
Robinson hasn’t progressed considerably from his rookie season (2017). His finest season was 2019 when he ranked 57th amongst tackles in go block win price, per ESPN Stats & Info analysis, and he ranked 59th in 2020. The franchise tag, which is estimated to be round $13.2 million, seems to be like a greater possibility than signing Robinson to a long-term deal. Take yet another 12 months to see if and the way a lot he improves. The Jaguars have probably the most salary-cap area out there (roughly $74 million), so that they undoubtedly may afford Trent Williams, who may get $18 million to $20 million yearly. Coach City Meyer not too long ago mentioned he likes the offensive line, in order that may be a sign the Jaguars are prepared to stay with Robinson not less than yet another 12 months.
Prediction: Robinson hasn’t made sufficient progress to warrant the franchise tag. The Jaguars will not tag him. — Michael DiRocco
Joe Thuney, left guard
This appears extremely unlikely, however as a result of Thuney was tagged final 12 months, he not less than falls into the class of prospects this 12 months. It might be a 120% enhance from his $14.7 million tag in 2020, and it is arduous to imagine the Patriots would wish to eat up $17.737 million in cap area with different urgent wants. The perimeters had all of 2019 and as much as July 2020 to succeed in an extension, and there gave the impression to be little momentum to take action.
Prediction: The Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Thuney. — Mike Reiss
Marcus Williams, security
The Saints have extreme salary-cap restraints on them this 12 months, so it is unlikely they may use the franchise tag on anybody. However security is probably the most reasonably priced place within the league in relation to the franchise tag ($11.4 million final 12 months). It is not out of the query the Saints would think about using it to safe one in every of their most essential younger defensive playmakers. The free security has been a starter ever since he was drafted within the second spherical in 2017 and arguably had his finest season in 2020. Williams has 14 profession interceptions, together with the playoffs.
Prediction: The Saints will not use the franchise tag on Williams. — Mike Triplett
Leonard Williams, defensive lineman
This may be extra as a short-term placeholder than anything. This is not the 12 months to place a $19.4 million cap cost on the books. The Giants franchised Williams final 12 months, and now it might be 120% of that $16.1 million wage for 2021. The purpose is to signal Williams to a long-term deal. However the franchise tag may purchase the 2 sides some extra time, if mandatory. Williams goes to receives a commission. He was value $16 million off a half-sack season. What’s he value now off a career-best 11.5 sacks? Lots.
Prediction: Williams indicators a long-term take care of the Giants earlier than the franchise tag deadline at slightly below $20 million per season. — Jordan Raanan
Marcus Maye, security
The projected tag quantity at security ($11.2 million) is not ridiculous, so the Jets may make the most of the tag for the primary time since 2016 (Muhammad Wilkerson). The purpose is to signal Maye, who was voted by teammates because the Jets’ MVP in 2020, to a long-term contract. The tag would purchase extra time if they cannot get it executed by March 9. A 12 months in the past, basic supervisor Joe Douglas admittedly miscalculated the market and misplaced extensive receiver Robby Anderson in free company. He would not need that to occur with Maye, who’s prone to land a deal that pays him within the neighborhood of $10 million to $12 million per 12 months.
Prediction: The Jets and Maye will attain a long-term settlement, avoiding New York from having to make use of the franchise tag. — Wealthy Cimini
Shaquill Griffin, cornerback
Griffin doubtless needs to be paid like a top-five cornerback, which may be too steep for the Seahawks as they appear to increase Jamal Adams on what might be a report contract for a security. That may carry the tag into play at an estimated price of $15.266 million, per Over The Cap. If the Seahawks aren’t assured they’ll get a deal executed with Griffin and anticipate a powerful marketplace for the 25-year-old Professional Bowler, they’d have to contemplate tagging and buying and selling him like they did two years in the past with Frank Clark.
Prediction: The Seahawks will not use the franchise tag on Griffin. — Brady Henderson
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Chris Godwin, extensive receiver
There is no method the Bucs will enable Godwin to go away if in any respect potential. But when they cannot work out a long-term deal, Godwin shall be their prime franchise tag candidate and it might price Tampa Bay roughly $16.5 million. Positive, they might franchise tag exterior linebacker Shaquil Barrett once more as a substitute, however it might price them 120% greater than what they tagged him with final 12 months, which might be roughly $19 million this 12 months — not precisely cap pleasant when the group has a projected $30 million in area out there for 2021.
Prediction: The Buccaneers will use the franchise tag on Godwin with the hopes of creating a long-term extension occur. — Jenna Laine
Jonnu Smith, tight finish
The Titans are effectively conscious of Smith’s worth as a pass-catcher, particularly within the purple zone the place he hauled in eight touchdowns final season. Smith has turn out to be a most well-liked goal for quarterback Ryan Tannehill. There was a dip in Smith’s involvement as soon as left deal with Taylor Lewan was positioned on injured reserve in November. The Titans utilized Smith’s blocking capability to assist Lewan’s backups. The franchise tag will price $10.2 million, however it would give Tennessee time to barter a long-term take care of Smith, who is barely 25 years previous.
Prediction: The Titans will place the franchise tag on Smith and work on a long-term deal to maintain him in Tennessee for some time. — Turron Davenport
Washington Soccer Group
Brandon Scherff, proper guard
Coach Ron Rivera has mentioned he needs to construct sturdy strains on either side of the ball. Scherff was a first-team All-Professional final season — the primary by any participant right here since 1996. He is additionally a four-time Professional Bowler. Sturdiness has been a priority as Scherff hasn’t performed a full season since 2016 and his 13 video games performed this previous season have been his most since 2017. There is no doubt about his impression when he performs, together with his capability to win on the line and on the transfer. Nonetheless, due to his stature, he would command round $15 million per 12 months — the very best for a guard. Washington used the franchise tag on him final 12 months at a value of $15.03 million. If tagged once more, he would obtain a 20% bump, so there’s not a lot incentive on his finish to get a deal executed understanding he may make $18 million on a one-year deal.
Prediction: Washington will use the franchise tag on Scherff, however it is going to be with the thought of constant to barter and, finally, attain a deal. It would simply take some time to get there. — John Keim