The deadline for NFL teams to place a franchise tag on a player and keep him from free agency is 11:59 a.m. ET Monday, March 16. Teams have waited until the last few days to make final decisions because a potential new collective bargaining agreement could change how the franchise tag works.
The current tag setup allows a team to keep a player on a top-dollar contract for one year. The player can play out that contract, or the two sides can agree to a multiyear contract by July 15.
Four players were tagged on Friday, with more high-profile names likely to be announced. If the Cowboys don’t get an extension done with quarterback Dak Prescott, then the franchise tag is a likely option. Chris Jones, who was the centerpiece of the Chiefs’ defensive line last season, is a strong candidate for the tag as well.
Sporting News is tracking the players who have received the franchise tag in 2020.
Brandon Scherff, RG, Redskins
Washington placed the franchise tag on Scherff on Saturday. Scherff will play the 2020 season on a one year contract worth roughly $16 million after a long term extension wasn’t agreed upon. The former No. 5 overall pick out of Iowa has made the Pro Bowl in three of his first five seasons but has also struggled with injury, missing 21 games over the last three seasons. The two sides can still negotiate a contract extension until July 15, but it remains to be seen if a deal will get done. Scherff is one of the best guards in the league and will come with a hefty price tag. The team is already down another Pro Bowl offensive linemen after Trent Williams didn’t play in 2019 due to disagreements with the team’s medical staff, so it makes sense the Redskins ensure they don’t lose another.
Hunter Henry, TE, Chargers
The Chargers didn’t want to let Henry get away for nothing. Philip Rivers is done in Los Angeles, but whoever is under center next for the Chargers could use a threat at tight end like Henry. He missed the entire 2018 season because of an injury and wasn’t able to stay healthy in 2019, either. Still, he had 55 catches for 652 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games last year.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jaguars
The franchise tag for Ngakoue will eat up half of Jacksonville’s projected $34 million in cap space, but the Jaguars seem to think it’s worth it. They selected Ngakoue in the third round in 2016, and he has turned into a huge success with 37.5 sacks in 63 games. Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell said after the season that signing Ngakoue to an extension was “priority No. 1,” but Ngakoue announced on Twitter that the Jaguars know he doesn’t have an interest in re-signing with them and “looks forward to continuing my career somewhere else.” The Jaguars have holes all over the field; losing Ngakoue would obviously create another one.
Justin Simmons, S, Broncos
Broncos president John Elway said the franchise tag is just a “placeholder” until the team can agree on a long term deal with Simmons. The franchise tag for a safety is roughly $12.7 million, according to Over The Cap, which will be a big jump from the $2 million Simmons made in 2019. Simmons took a big leap last season, grabbing a career-high four interceptions and recording 15 passes defended on his way to a second-team All-Pro selection.
Matthew Judon, EDGE, Ravens
The Ravens tagged Judon on March 13 to ensure their team leader in sacks didn’t hit the open market. Many have suspected Baltimore might trade Judon instead of spending the money to sign him long term. Last season, the Chiefs placed the franchise tag on Dee Ford and then traded him to the 49ers for a second-round pick. The Chiefs also gave up a first-round pick to acquire Frank Clark from the Seahawks after he was tagged. The same scenario could play out for Judon.