Monday marks this summer’s franchise tag deadline, the last day a player given the franchise tag can negotiate a long-term contract extension ahead of the 2017 season. If the player and team cannot agree to a deal, the player will be subjected to the stipulations of the tag for the upcoming season.
What does that mean for the players and the teams involved? Here’s a quick guide to Monday’s deadline.
Bell possesses a strong case to be considered as the NFL’s best running back, and the 25-year-old wants to be paid accordingly. Under the terms of the franchise tag, Bell would play the upcoming season on a one-year, $12.1-million contract, a figure that would make him the league’s highest-paid running back by a wide margin. Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy and Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart will earn $8 million in 2017, the second-highest figures for a running back.
Many analysts have argued that it’s unwise to pay a premium for a running back, with numerous backs getting touches and a relatively short, finite window in the league before they become replaceable again. Bell is the outlier in this framework, emerging as a genuine superstar and is entering his peak at 25. It’s a tough decision for the Steelers with Bell already commanding top dollar at this position, but he’s also a budding superstar that continues to make his team a perennial Super Bowl contender.
After Cousins excelled as the Redskins’ starter in 2015, the organization hedged against the prospect of him repeating his performance during the 2016 campaign, and lost. Cousins earned his first Pro Bowl selection while solidifying his status as the engineer of the Redskins’ offense, a development that caught the franchise by surprise. Both parties tried to reach a long-term deal before free agency, but Cousins became the first quarterback to receive the franchise tag in consecutive years.
Cousins will earn $23.93 million under the terms of the franchise tag for the upcoming season, barring a last-minute, long-term deal, a notion that seems extremely unlikely based off the reports emanating from the nation’s capital. This would make him the NFL’s fifth highest-paid quarterback in 2017, trailing Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, and Drew Brees. While some believe Cousins doesn’t belong in that tier of quarterbacks, he’s proved to be a capable starter with a few flashes of stardom throughout his two years as the full-time starter.
Now the Redskins face a dilemma with Cousins, as a third consecutive franchise tag on him would present an unpalatable figure for the organization, currently operating without a general manager. In any event, Cousins is destined to get paid, it’s just a matter of by whom.
Johnson played the best football of his career in 2015, recording seven interceptions, forcing the Rams to choose between retaining him or Janoris Jenkins. The Rams opted to use the franchise tag on Johnson, allowing Jenkins to sign with the New York Giants in free agency. Johnson submitted a solid, if unspectacular season last fall, and the Rams franchise tagged him for the second consecutive year, creating a real dilemma.
Under the terms of the franchise tag, Johnson will be paid a whopping $16.74 million in 2017, the highest figure of any cornerback in the NFL. For a player that many would hesitate to label a top-20 cornerback in the league, Johnson is being paid like a perennial All-Pro, largely based off his body of work in 2015. If the Rams allow Johnson to walk after the 2017 season, they’d sport one of the most woefully overmatched cornerback groups in the league, but would have to keep the 27-year-old at an exorbitant price. With this in mind, it seems unlikely both parties will reach a deal at the 11th hour.
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