Just over a week ago we saw the window for NFL teams to place the “Franchise Tag” on players open. And as of yet, nobody has officially placed the tag on any players, but expect that to change before the deadline at 4pm Eastern Time on the 1st March. We take a look here at the players who could potentially get the sometimes bemoaned Franchise Tag.
Will Be Franchise Tagged
RB – Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Let’s start this off with a slam dunk here, and part of the 3 B’s in Steel City, Le’Veon Bell. All the nopises out of Pittsburgh make this one seem just a matter of time really, as they can’t let one of the Top 3 Running Backs in the game walk away without a fight. It may also transpire that he plays under the franchise tag, mainly with some indiscretions along the way; and if he can keep his act clean then a long term deal may well be done by the end of next season.
QB – Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins)
This one is slightly less clear cut; but I still fully expect the Redskins to place some kind of Franchise Tag on their star Quarterback before the deadline. A long term deal before March 1st keeps looking increasingly less likely, and this may have to be the route taken in the end. Tagging Cousins doesn’t necessarily mean that he’ll even get to Training Camp with the team; as the “Tag and Trade” option has come up. With the 49ers newly appointed Head Coach, Kyle Shanahan, a big believer in Cousins they may well offer up their 2nd Overall Pick and some others to lure Cousins away from America’s capital.
OLB – Chandler Jones (Arizona Cardinals)
Don’t you love it when Coaches actually help you write articles? Bruce Arians said “Chandler’s not going anywhere because if we have to, we will franchise him,” after the season finished. If that’s not no-brainer territory then I don’t know what is. He has been a huge addition to the Cardinals pass rush that lost Dwight Freeney last season and maybe Calais Campbell this year; so keeping Jones around will be a massive priority.
Should get the tag but…
S – Eric Berry (Kansas City Chiefs)
This one’s a tough one, because Eric Berry has already publicly claimed that he wouldn’t be willing to play under the Franchise Tag again, and with it being the 2nd season in a row that he gets a 20% increase on last year’s tag. The Chiefs can’t afford to lose a guy who’s the life and soul of their defence; and one of the best safeties in the game and may well need to Franchise him to give them more time to negotiate a long term deal before before the July 15th deadline. But is it worth the friction it could cause between the two?
WR – Terrelle Pryor (Cleveland Browns)
Who’d have thought that we’d be saying this 12 months ago?! This could surprise a few people as there will still be doubters out there who don’t believe he’s worthy of a $15 million price tag (the wide receiver tag cost). But with the amount of cap room that Cleveland has this season, and Pryor genuinely having a shot at being an elite player (all be it not quite yet) that the Browns have lacked for some time now. They may as well keep him for another year to see if he’s the real deal and if he prove it; pay the man next off-season.
DT – Kawann Short (Carolina Panthers)
When Josh Norman was let go last off-season, one of the reasons behind it was that they were wary of Kawann Short’s impending Free Agency and wanted to get a long term deal done. Short’s play took a slight step back from his incredibly productive 2015, but he’s still a top tier Defensive Lineman; who will more than likely stay In Carolina. He could potentially get a long term deal done before the Franchise Tag Deadline with Gettleman not wanting a Josh Norman repeat this season.
DT – Brandon Williams (Baltimore Ravens)
Williams was an elite run stuffer last year for the Ravens, and a big reason why they were 5th in Rushing Defence in the whole league. With Damon Harrison’s high profile success in New York Blue as well, it remains a high priority for Baltimore to hold onto a position that could come with an extra premium this year; but there are plenty of alternatives in free agency and a deep DT draft class that the Ravens may cost save and look elsewhere.
Won’t be tagged
Close, but no dice
DE – Jason Pierre-Paul (New York Giants)
Speaking of the Giants and their defence, we take a look at JPP, who had a fine bounceback season on the Franchise Tag, and formed a formidable team with Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon on the Giants D-Line. However, as it would be the second straight year on the tag. I don’t think the Giants can afford to cough up $17 million for one year of JPP. Returning on a long-term deal is hardly out of the question though.
OLB – Melvin Ingram (Los Angeles Chargers)
This one is a tough one as Ingram really came on this season on a Chargers defensive line that was probably one of the more underrated in the league by season’s end. I think this one really is a coin flip right now, as the franchise tag may well be a lot to invest in a really good but not necessarily great talent on the edge; however can they really begin to break up a unit that showed a lot of promise?
CB – A.J. Bouye (Houston Texans)
Nobody would’ve predicted this to be anywhere near a debate in pre-season; coming from nowhere Bouye has put himself in the discussion for CB1 material similar to how Josh Norman did towards the end of his contract in Carolina. But with the Texans having some big contracts on the books (thanks Osweiler) and a some key players extensions looming (e.g. Clowney) they may not want to be paying nearly $15 million for a Cornerback who only has one year of CB1 production on his CV currently.
Change of Scenery Needed
WR – Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears)
It’s not often a truly top tier Wide Receiver talent hits the Free Agent market, but here we are with Jeffery and the Bears. Chicago is in “Blow It All Up” mode right now, and with the Emergence of Cameron Meredith last year, it’ll make losing Jeffery hurt a lot less. He had his failed drug test last year, resulting in a 4 game suspension which may lead the Bears to enough doubt not to try to retain him.
MLB – Donta’a Hightower (New England Patriots)
Hightower wants to get PAID this year, and rightly so, he’s been a staple in the Patriots linebacking corps for a while now, picking up 2 rings in the process. But how often does Bill Belicheck hand out huge contracts to players up for renewal; the answer? Very rarely. His next man up, and do your job philosophy is what has made the Patriots dynasty truly great the past decade and a half, and I don’t see this one being any different.
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