Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Chris Godwin and Chicago Bears receiver Allen Robinson among those tagged; Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay and Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones still on course for free agency; the future of Bucs pass rusher Shaq Barrett still to be decided
Wide receivers Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson were among the high-profile names as a total of 10 players were tagged prior to Tuesday’s 4pm ET deadline.
Teams now have until mid-July to reach an agreement over a new long-term contract extension, otherwise the player in question will play the upcoming season under the one-year tender.
Organisations had the choice of three different tags: the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag. They are explained below.
Exclusive franchise tag: The team pays a player either the average salary of the top five highest-paid players at his position or 120 per cent of his previous year’s salary – whichever of the two is higher. Players can also be tagged up to three times by a team, but the pay escalates heavily in this case. If a player receives this tag, they can’t negotiate with other teams. They either sign the deal, sign a new contract, or hold out.
Non-exclusive franchise tag: The salary implications are the same as the exclusive label, but in this case, other teams can attempt to pry the tagged player away. If they do agree on a contract with the player, two things can happen: 1, the original team can match the terms and take on the new contract themselves, or 2, if they decline, the new team must send two first-round picks as compensation. This tag is most commonly used.
Transition tag: The player receives the average salary of the top-10 highest-paid players at his position for one year. Here, the player can negotiate with other teams to find a long-term contract. The original team has the option to match the offer, but if they do not, no compensation is given.
Who got tagged?
Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the end, wide receiver Chris Godwin made more sense as a recipient of the franchise tag than pass rusher Shaquil Barrett based on a financially-kinder $15.808m cap hit for the Super Bowl champions. Godwin made 65 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns last season.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
While it isn’t an avenue Allen Robinson was keen on, the Bears used the franchise tag on the wide receiver in an effort to retain their star playmaker as they go quarterback shopping this offseason. Robinson’s 1,250 receiving yards represent a second-best return behind the 1,400 he put up in his 2015 Pro Bowl year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys applied the franchise tag to quarterback Dak Prescott for the second straight season as a matter of procedure after the two agreed to a new four-year, $160m contract extension, which included a record $66m signing bonus and will see the 2016 fourth-round pick earn $75m alone in year one. The nature of the deal rules out the possibility of Prescott being tagged for a third time.
Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos
Safety Justin Simmons was franchise-tagged by the Denver Broncos for the second straight year as the two parties work towards a multi-year deal ahead of the mid-July deadline. The Pro Bowler contributed 96 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defensed last season.
Leonard Williams, DL, New York Giants
New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman reminded all that his divisive decision to trade for Leonard Williams in October 2019 has paid off. The Giants sought to stop their star pass rusher from hitting free agency by applying the franchise tag to him on the back of a career-year in which Williams produced 11.5 sacks. The No 6 overall pick at the 2016 Draft also produced 42 pressures, 12 hurries and 30 quarterback hits.
Marcus Williams, S, New Orleans Saints
In one of the surprise selections, the New Orleans Saints designated safety Marcus Williams as their franchise tag player, meaning he is now expected to make around $10.5m this coming season. The 2017 second-round pick had 59 tackles, seven passes defensed and three interceptions in 2020.
Marcus Maye, S, New York Jets
The Jets used the non-exclusive franchise tag on veteran safety Marcus Maye, who will earn roughly $10.496 in 2021 as a result. Maye was the 39th overall pick at the 2017 Draft and has six interceptions, 22 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, 266 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 54 games.
Brandon Scherff, G, Washington
For the second successive year Washington franchise-tagged four-time Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff, who was named an All-Pro for the first time in his career last season. Scherff, who hasn’t played all 16 games since 2016, is arguably an advocate for the value of the tag from a player perspective as he prepares to earn $18m in 2021 on the back of the $15m he made on the tag in 2020.
Taylor Moton, OT, Carolina Panthers
There were no surprises in Carolina as the Panthers administered their franchise tag to offensive tackle Taylor Moton, who is set to make $13.602m under the one-year tender. Moton played 100 per cent of offensive snaps in 2018 and 2020 and missed just six snaps in 2019.
Cam Robinson, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars used the franchise tag perhaps with a certain Trevor Lawrence in mind, locking in offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who is now due to earn just shy of $14m in 2021. The 2017 second-round pick has started 47 games in his four seasons in the NFL, including all 16 in 2020. He notably missed 14 during the 2018 campaign due to a torn ACL.
Who wasn’t tagged?
The Detroit Lions paved the way for Kenny Golladay to become a premier free agency option next week as they informed the wide receiver that he would not be tagged. Golladay was limited to just five games in 2020 due to injury having led the league with 11 touchdown catches in 2019. Detroit also overlooked pass rusher Romeo Okwara, who collected 10 sacks last season – equalling his previous four seasons combined.
Bud Dupree is heading for the free market after seeing his 2020 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers derailed by a torn ACL, while the future of JuJu Smith-Schuster at Heinz Field is yet to be confirmed.
The running back market could be intriguing after the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks refrained from tagging Aaron Jones and Chris Carson, respectively. That being said, the former seemingly remain keen to reach an agreement over a new long-term deal with Jones, who has been instrumental in Matt LaFleur’s offense.
It was also a quiet day for those named Shaq; Seattle look set to allow cornerback Shaquill Griffin to land on the open market and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers still have work to do on the future of free agency-bound pass rusher Shaquil Barrett.
Over in Baltimore, the Ravens decided not to tag either Matthew Judon or Yannick Ngakoue, while tight end-needy teams will have taken an interest in the Los Angeles Chargers’ Hunter Henry and the Tennessee Titans’ Jonnu Smith not receiving the tag.
The Los Angeles Rams meanwhile stopped short of tagging linebacker Leonard Floyd on the back of a career year that saw him collect 10.5 sacks in his first season since being released by the Chicago Bears.
Also among those not tagged was New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney, Arizona Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake, San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Trent Williams, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson and Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller.