With less than 2 weeks to go until the deadline for clubs to sign their Franchise Tagged players to long term extensions, here’s a quick look at whether the players still un-signed will go ahead and agree a deal, or be forced to play under the Franchise Tag in 2016 if a deal is not agreed in time.
Firstly a quick recap of the players who were tagged in some form that have had their futures resolved already. Cordy Glenn the Left Tackle for the Buffalo Bills signed a 5 Year $65M contract in May. Olivier Vernon was transition tagged by Miami, but the New York Giants came up with an insane offer that the Dolphins weren’t prepared to match and he relocates to East Rutherford. Josh Norman had his tag rescinded by the Panthers after contract disputes and promptly signed with the Redskins. That leaves 7 players who have yet to have their futures decided, here we predict whether they sign a long-term deal or play under the tag to prove their worth.
Should Sign Long Term
Von Miller – OLB, Denver Broncos
This one seems to be a matter of when not if the Broncos sign him to a deal, and I’m not buying the Media comments that Miller is unhappy. The Broncos Number 58 had one of the all-time great post-season stretches by a defensive player which allowed Denver to lift Superbowl L in San Francisco in February; and he is beloved by all the fans at Mile High. If John Elway raised eyebrows when they let Brock Osweiler walk, there would be a riot if Miller wasn’t signed come July 15th.
Justin Tucker – K, Baltimore Ravens
Another seemingly slam dunk deal should happen between Tucker and the Ravens at some points in the coming days. In his rookie season Tucker instantly became one of the better Kickers in the game, with a career 87.8% success rate of Field Goals and he has yet to miss a PAT, despite the recent rule changes. Kickers are most certainly people too, and with new rules making conversion of PATs more critical than before, it really will pay to have one of the game’s best in Justin Tucker.
Eric Berry – S, Kansas City Chiefs
Berry returned from Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015 straight back to where he left off, as one of the best safeties in the game, being elected to the Pro Bowl and won Comeback Player of the Year. Although there’s been not much contact between the two camps, I don’t think there’s anyone out there that can imagine Berry wearing anything but KC Red patrolling the secondary at Arrowhead Stadium.
Play Under The Tag
Muhammad Wilkerson – DE, New York Jets
Leading off our players playing under the tag is one of the most talented defensive players in the AFC, so what is Wilkerson doing in this section of the article? This says less about Wilkerson, and more about the vast range of defensive options the Jets have. With Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams now coming through the ranks, convincing Wilkerson is the best option to allow them another year to figure out whether they want to roll with their young upcoming talent, or get Wilkerson back when his tag is up. Given recent stories about Wilkerson and his anger at this stance, it seems like him and the Green half of New York will head for a split next March.
Alshon Jeffery – WR, Chicago Bears
A lot of the rumours coming out of Chicago are that Jeffery will happily play under the tag in 2016, as if he pumps in another big season like his 2014 and 2015 showings then he could significantly increase his earnings from just above the recently signed 4 year $46M contract by Doug Baldwin, to somewhere slightly below the 5 year $70M contract Demaryius Thomas signed this time last year. However Kevin White is the wildcard in this as if he steals targets then it could take away some of Jeffery’s value.
Kirk Cousins – QB, Washington Redskins
This appears to be the highest stakes Poker game amongst the Franchise tagged players; do Scot McCloughan and the Redskins offer Cousins a contract now hoping that he will perform to his 2015 level again, which would equate to a bargain. Or do they let him play under the tag, guarding against regression and an overpaid QB. The later route appears to be the one the Front Office is taking, and will cough up the top 5/10 QB money that Cousins will have earned if he proves last season wasn’t just a flash in the plan.
Trumaine Johnson – CB, Los Angeles Rams
This one seems to be the most obvious case of playing under the tag out of our 7 cases as, similarly to Jeffery, Johnson is content to play under the tag and proves he earns a bumper payday next off-season whilst the Rams will definitely want to see more out of him before giving him such a deal. The only worry with this, is that Johnson doesn’t necessarily have his heart set on staying in California should he perform at a high level next year, and as the Josh Norman proved, there are plenty of teams out there who are willing to massive contracts to stud Cornerbacks.
In my best Jim White voice, “the clock is ticking” and in most cases these deals don’t get done until the last minute and there can be a few shocks if one camp comes up with a very enticing final offer that wasn’t originally on the table for negotiations purposes. All will be revealed on 15th July 4pm Eastern Time (9pm UK Time).
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