The drawn out process of determining the exact salary cap for next season has led to slight delay in team’s applying the franchise tag, but we’ve started to see a few confirmations coming through:
Confirmed Franchise Tags:
Chicago Bears – Allen Robinson – Wide Receiver
It’s not a surprise that Chicago haven’t managed to tie Robinson down to a long-term deal at this point, but there was no chance that he was walking out the door this off-season.
He was arguably the best WR who was set to hit the market and Chicago’s offense immediately becomes extremely limited if Robinson goes, but you do get the impression this is their last season to convince him to stick around for the long term.
He will be 28 by the end of next season so that’s prime time for a wide receiver to cash in, so it’s vital that Chicago find a way to get a decent QB who can lead the franchise going forward.
It must be said that keeping Robinson around also boosts their chances in convincing a QB to come in the trade market or he’ll be a fantastic weapon for anyone they might draft, so this makes a ton of sense.
New York Jets – Marcus Maye – Safety
Maye has been one of the rare standouts on a pretty grim Jets team in recent years, but it does look like things could improve this time round with a new coach and a ton of draft picks and cap space.
Maye is now in his prime years so he may need to move on next summer if the Jets continue to flounder, but it’s a huge boost to have him around to build the defence around him.
There are suggestions that Maye and his camp aren’t entirely happy with the situation at the moment, so a tag and trade can’t be fully ruled out either.
READ MORE: NFL free agency – Franchise tag tracker for 2021 season – Robinson, Maye and Godwin lead the early confirmations
Washington Football Team – Brandon Scherff – Guard
The tag means that Scherff is going to earn over $18m this season so it’s not a sustainable model moving forward for him, but it also sounds like talks are going well and a long term extension is a genuine possibility over the next few months.
Washington’s defence is certainly good enough to carry them to the play-offs again and improvements on offense could turn them into a contender, so keeping Scherff around will be a huge boost to the QB next season.
It still looks like they are on the hunt for that starting QB and having someone so dependable on the line can never be overestimated, so this is another one that just makes sense.
Chris Godwin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Wide Receiver
We often hear talk about Super Bowl winners who want to stay in the aftermath of the victory only to leave in free agency when big offers come along, but Tampa have managed to keep Chris Godwin around for at least one more year.
Almost any receiver in league is going to be the WR2 when they play opposite Mike Evans but he would be the best wideout on most teams, so this is big for Tom Brady as he looks to put another run together next year.
It’s expected the tag will cost over $15m for Godwin so that will make it harder to keep some other guys around, while it makes you wonder if the defence could lose some key players.
That means keeping the offense as strong as possible is vital especially when Antonio Brown could be on his way, but this almost certainly means that Shaq Barrett will hit the market.
Taylor Moton – Offensive Tackle – Carolina Panthers
There’s been plenty of talk about Moton being allowed to hit the market in recent days, but it’s since been confirmed that he has been tagged by the Panthers.
Chicago have various offensive linemen hitting the market this off-season so it’s vital to keep some familiarity, and Moton has been virtually ever-present over the years so he’s a high level player who can be relied upon.
The suggestions are that the plan is to tie him to a long-term deal after next season if the salary cap increases again, but this keeps him around for one more season at least.
Cam Robinson – Offensive Tackle – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags have plenty of cap room so applying the tag to Robinson was an easy choice to make, but it also looks like a necessary one too.
It’s widely expected that Trevor Lawrence will be drafted with the number one pick and there are expectations that he could be one of the best QBs to enter the league in a long time, but that means nothing if he’s got no time to think or do anything.
This isn’t to say that Robinson is a league leader in the position and he will need to have a good year to prove that he deserves a lucrative long term deal, but it’s an affordable move and the Jags know what they have in him so it looks like the smart option to keep him around.
Justin Simmons – Denver Broncos – Safety
In a division with some outstanding offenses it’s vital that Denver stay strong on defence, and keeping Simmons around is especially important when it’s not clear what’s going to happen with Von Miller.
Simmons has played in every game for three years so he’s reliable, he’s also getting better with each passing year and his INT numbers continue to increase, while he’s another player who’s touted to work out a longer term deal after being tagged.
It’s even been described as a procedural move to extend the period for contract talks, so everything points to him staying well past next season at Mile-High.
Leonard Williams – New York Giants – Defensive End
This is the second straight season for Williams on the franchise tag in New York, but it does finally look like he’s going to live up to his earlier promise.
Last year it looked like he was being kept around in the hope that he might take the step towards becoming a key player, while this year he’s being kept around because he’s so important to the team and letting him go would severely weaken them.
He recorded 11.5 sacks last year which was his career best by some way, so he looks like another candidate for a long-term deal over the next few months.