One of the NFL’s unique stipulations is the franchise tag. Teams can use a tag to effectively guarantee that a soon-to-be free agent will return to the team for the next season, but at a hefty price.
In 2021, the Green Bay Packers are in an unusual position — there is actually a non-zero chance that the team may use a tag for the first time since 2010. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was the last Packer to get tagged, though he signed a long-term contract extension shortly thereafter; however, running back Aaron Jones seems like the team’s lone potential candidate this year.
The tag is effectively a pricey one-year contract that ensures the player will return to his old team for the upcoming season. Tag amounts differ by position but are tied to the salary cap, so with the cap expected to decrease, tagged players’ salaries will do so as well. There are exceptions, however — the tag amount is either the cap-adjusted amount or 120% of the player’s salary cap hit in the previous season, whichever is greater.
So far, as of Sunday afternoon, two teams have seemingly made their tag decisions. The details of those two reports are below. Teams have until 4:00 PM Eastern on Tuesday, March 9th to use the tags, so keep it here for updates up until that deadline.
UPDATE: The NFL will likely push back the tag deadline from Tuesday if it does not settle on a salary cap number for 2021 before the deadline. Stay tuned.
New Orleans Saints: S Marcus Williams
In a bit of a surprise, the Saints are franchise tagging Williams, their second-round draft pick in 2017. Williams has started 44 of 48 games over the last four seasons and has multiple interceptions in each season. His tag value will be somewhere between $10.5 and $11 million. However, the Saints were still projected to be about $48 million over the cap (if it is at $180 million) even before making this move, so they will still need to clear a ton of space before next Wednesday.
Chicago Bears: WR Allen Robinson
The Bears tagged Robinson, who just completed the three-year contract he signed as a free agent in 2018. With a tag number of about $16 million, Robinson’s cap number will stay pretty steady, as he carried values of $15 million in each of 2019 and 2020. Update: The tag for Robinson is actually worth $18 million for 2020 because of the 120% rule.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: WR Chris Godwin
The Bucs had two possible tag candidates: Godwin and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, whom they tagged last year. However, the Bucs are tagging Godwin, probably in part because his tag will come in around $16 million compared to $19 million for Barrett.
Jacksonville Jaguars: OT Cam Robinson
The Jags will tag Robinson, their left tackle of the last four years. Robinson, a second-round draft pick in 2017 out of Alabama, has started all 47 games he has played in, including 30 of 32 games over the past two years. This is his first tag, which should come in somewhere between $13.5 and $14 million.
New York Giants: DL Leonard Williams
The Giants traded for Williams midway through the 2019 season, and he came up with a big year in 2020, racking up 11.5 sacks after coming back on the franchise tag a year ago. Once again, the Giants will tag him with the hopes of signing him long-term, with his tag amount being worth $19.35 million this year.
New York Jets: S Marcus Maye
After trading away safety Jamal Adams last season, the Jets are keeping their starting free safety with the franchise tag for 2021. Maye, a former second-round draft pick in 2017, had a very good season in 2020 with 88 total tackles, two interceptions, 11 pass breakups, and two sacks. His tag amount should be somewhere between $10.5 and $11 million, depending on the league’s final cap number.
Washington Football Team: G Brandon Scherff
For the second straight year, the WFT is tagging starting guard Brandon Scherff, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Scherff’s tag will be worth about $18 million. Interestingly, Scherff and Leonard Williams went 5th and 6th overall respectively in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Carolina Panthers: RT Taylor Moton
The Panthers are planning to tag Moton, according to Ian Rapoport. Moton, a second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2017, just completed the final year of his rookie contract. He has not missed a game in his career, starting every game for the Panthers over the last three seasons at right tackle. The tag number for offensive linemen should be between $13.5 and $14 million.
Denver Broncos: S Justin Simmons
This is the second straight season that the Broncos have tagged Simmons, as they officially announced the tag on Friday, March 5. Therefore, instead of having his tag salary tied to the salary cap, it becomes 120% of the tag value from last year, which makes his tag amount $13.73 million. Originally a third-round draft pick in 2016, Simmons set a career high in 2020 with five interceptions and was voted to his first Pro Bowl.
Players who will not be tagged
- Packers: RB Aaron Jones
- Buccaneers: EDGE Shaq Barrett
- Steelers: EDGE Bud Dupree
- Falcons: S Keanu Neal
- Patriots: G Joe Thuney
- Lions: WR Kenny Golladay and DE Romeo Okwara
- Seahawks: CB Shaquill Griffin and RB Chris Carson
- Cardinals: EDGE Haason Reddick