NFL franchise tag tracker: Who’s getting paid for 2020, what’s next
The deadline for the NFL franchise tag is 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.
Four teams — the Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos — already have decided to use the franchise tag, which binds the player to the team for one season. Franchise tag figures are based upon the top five salaries at each position.
Here’s a look at why the teams made the decision (players ranked in order of projected tag number):
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Franchise tag salary: $19.3 million
Career highlights: Ngakoue is already second in franchise history with 37.5 sacks, and his 14 forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2016 are more than every player except Khalil Mack (17), Chandler Jones (17) and T.J. Watt (15) during that span.
Why he was tagged: The Jaguars were unable to work out a long-term deal last season, which led to Ngakoue skipping most of the voluntary workouts and OTAs and mandatory minicamp and holding out for 11 days at the start of training camp. He got off to a slow start because of a hamstring injury but finished with eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 2019. The thought was that the departure of Tom Coughlin (fired in December) would have made negotiations a little easier this offseason because Ngakoue’s camp was angered by Coughlin’s reported decision to cut off negotiations last July after roughly a month of talks. However, the sides made little, if any, progress and Ngakoue announced on March 2 that he told the Jaguars he didn’t want to sign a long-term deal.
What he brings: The knock on Ngakoue is that he doesn’t play the run well, but defensive coordinator Todd Wash has said multiple times that isn’t true. Ngakoue is a tireless worker, relentless player and disruptive rusher whose biggest strength is creating turnovers. Of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016, Ngakoue is directly responsible for five: a pick-six, a fumble return and three forced fumbles on sacks that other players recovered for TDs. Four of those came in 2017, when the Jaguars made a surprising run to the AFC Championship Game and he had one last season. — Michael DiRocco
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Franchise tag salary: $18.5 million
Career highlights: Green is a seven-time Pro Bowler who has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers since he has been in the league.
Why he was tagged: Green didn’t play a single snap in 2019 after he tore multiple ankle ligaments during the first practice of the preseason. It added to an injury history that has increased over the years. He has missed 23 of the past 24 games. The two sides were unable to agree on a long-term deal before the tag was placed.
What he brings: When healthy, Green is one of the league’s most dynamic receivers. And if the Bengals take Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick as expected, Green could be a massive asset to aid the quarterback’s development during his rookie season. The Bengals also need another dynamic receiver to open up the passing attack. — Ben Baby
Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Franchise tag salary: $15.5 million
Career highlights: Jones led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past two seasons with 15.5 in 2018 and 9.0 last year.
Why he was tagged: The sides couldn’t agree on the terms of a multiyear contract and Jones is too productive for the Chiefs to let him walk without receiving some compensation. Jones could attract a trade offer from one or more teams that not only want a player of Jones’ caliber but are also in better financial position than the Chiefs to meet his salary demands. The Chiefs know how such trades work. They participated in two trades involving franchise players last season, acquiring Frank Clark from the Seahawks and sending Dee Ford to the 49ers.
What he brings: Few players have Jones’ ability as an inside pass-rusher. Jones is a remarkably consistent player. In 2018, he set an NFL record with at least one sack in 11 straight games. He had a big game in Super Bowl LIV against the 49ers. He knocked down three of Jimmy Garoppolo’s passes and also got pressure on Garoppolo that led to a second-quarter interception. Jones and Clark make for a nice pass-rush combination that the Chiefs would rather not break up. Jones can also be disruptive in the run game. — Adam Teicher
Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos
Franchise tag salary: $12.7 million
Career highlights: His teammates believed he was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs in in the league this past season — he was voted second-team All-Pro — and last year was easily his best overall effort in his career. His athleticism and savvy are on display in every game, but one sticks out for many. As a rookie in 2016, he leapt over blockers in front of him to block an extra point attempt in New Orleans and the Broncos returned it for a game-winning two-point conversion.
Why he was tagged: Not only is Simmons one of the Broncos’ most versatile and prepared players, he is one of their most active in the community as well, given he was Denver’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He has played every snap of the past two seasons, topping 1,000 in each of those years, and taken on a variety of roles, including nickel cornerback when the defense has had injuries. He is one of those players — on the field, in the locker room and in the community — who, if he’s not re-signed, other players have to wonder about their own chances of getting a new deal down the road.
What he brings: Simmons had his best overall season in 2019, his first year in Vic Fangio’s defense. His four interceptions were a career best as were his 15 passes defensed. He has the athleticism and route recognition ability to play deep as well as the physicality to play along the line of scrimmage. He is still an ascending player as he enters his fifth year, given he played far more mistake-free this past season as the Broncos played much better assignment football overall. — Jeff Legwold
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