The deadline for teams to use the franchise or transition tag was Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Some got an early jump on using the tag, while others decided against it and opened the path for some very good players to hit free agency.
Here’s a rundown of the teams that had a realistic decision with the tag and what they ended up doing (we’ll be updating this post through the deadline):
USED THE TAG
Miami Dolphins: WR Jarvis Landry
The Dolphins locked up Landry on the franchise tag early, and everyone assumed he will eventually get traded. It’s not the worst move for Miami if that’s the case, because there’s not a ton available at receiver in free agency and some teams really need help. Miami will be able to get a nice haul back. Landry has a specific skill as a slot receiver. He’s not going to average a lot of yards per catch. But he can be a productive part of any offense.
Dallas Cowboys: DE Demarcus Lawrence
Lawrence got the tag and signed it right away, meaning he’ll make about $17 million no matter what this season. After a 14.5-sack season, the Cowboys weren’t letting him go. Lawrence had a refreshing reaction to the tag, telling NFL Network’s Jane Slater he plans to “break the bank” next year by working to be the best player possible, and added: “I’m truly blessed and won’t spend a dime until I get a long term deal. Priorities first=my kids.”
Detroit Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah
Ansah is a productive pass rusher who commands a lot of attention on the Lions’ line. They weren’t going to let defensive-minded new head coach Matt Patricia start his tenure without his best pass rusher, so they locked up Ansah on the tag.
Los Angeles Rams: S Lamarcus Joyner
The Rams had a choice between Joyner and receiver Sammy Watkins for the tag, and chose Joyner. Joyner moved to safety full time last season and had a fine season. The Rams could try to retain Watkins too, but if he hits free agency he’d be one of the best receivers available in a thin market.
Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
Bell is one of the best players in the game, and the Steelers probably figured it was a good deal to get him at a little more than $14 million on a second franchise tag. The two sides will continue to work on a long-term deal, and Bell told ESPN that the two sides are closer than they were last year. If no long-term deal is reached, questions will begin about whether Bell will sit out games.
DIDN’T USE THE TAG
Minnesota Vikings on QB Case Keenum
There was a report in late February that the Vikings wouldn’t franchise Keenum, who is coming off a good season and will get plenty of interest in free agency. That presumably means the Vikings will be in on Kirk Cousins, one of the most attractive free-agent quarterbacks in years.
Washington Redskins on QB Kirk Cousins
There was speculation the Redskins would tag Cousins again, not to keep him (they traded for Alex Smith) but to get something more in a trade than a compensatory pick they will receive. That was a foolish idea, and it seems like it has passed and Cousins will be a free agent.
Carolina Panthers on G Andrew Norwell or DT Star Lotulelei
The Panthers signed kicker Graham Gano to a long-term deal, which allowed them to use the franchise tag on either of their big interior linemen. But the Panthers passed, and Norwell and Lotulelei should get nice contracts on the open market.
Jacksonville Jaguars on WR Allen Robinson
The Jaguars made the unusual move of announcing before the deadline that they wouldn’t tag Robinson. If Robinson hits the market, he’ll be the best skill-position player available as a big-bodied receiver with a 1,400-yard season on his resume. The Jaguars will presumably keep working on a long-term deal with him.
USED THE TRANSITION TAG
Chicago Bears: CB Kyle Fuller
In a bit of a surprise, the Bears decided to put the transition tag on Fuller according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That allows the Bears to match any offer Fuller gets, while giving them more time to negotiate a long-term deal. After Fuller missed 2016 due to injury the Bears didn’t pick up the former first-round pick’s fifth-year option, but he bounced back strong last season.
– – – – – – –