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Recap of Friday’s NFL franchise tag contract extension madness

Friday was a busy day of contract extensions for franchised players. We break down the deals that got done, and those that didn’t.

The final notable offseason date passed this past Friday, with teams having until then to secure contract extensions with franchised players. If a deal was not done by that day, the two sides would have to wait until the end of the season to negotiate again. Naturally, players want to work out long-term deals and get some security. There is plenty of money to be made with the tag, but it artificially suppresses salaries, and costs players the bigger guarantees.

There were six players under the franchise tag heading into Friday, and we ended up seeing three contract extensions. Von Miller, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Justin Tucker all signed extensions. Alshon Jeffery, Trumaine Johnson, and Kirk Cousins will play the year on the franchise tag.

Contract extensions

Miller ended up getting a six-year $114 million extension, with $70 million in guarantees. He gets $42 million fully guaranteed, and the remaining $28 million is guaranteed for injury but rolls into a full guarantee over the life of the contract. He’ll have a cap hit of $11.4 million his first year, and then cap hits between $20.4 million and $22.4 million the next four seasons. It’s safe to say this deal will be renegotiated a few times during that stretch. I’m curious to see how the Broncos cap takes these hits.

Wilkerson signed a five-year, $86 million extension, with $37 million fully guaranteed, and an additional $17 million guaranteed for injury. Wilkerson was scheduled to have a $15 million cap hit, but reports suggest it has been decreased by $5.7 million. Wilkerson was a guy a few folks were hoping the 49ers might make a run at, but once the franchise tag was placed, it was not going to happen. And the team ended up investing draft capital instead in the defensive line.

Tucker signed a four-year, $16.8 million extension, with $10.8 million guaranteed. He was due to have a $4,572,000 cap hit, so the average comes down $372,000. Stephen Gostkowski currently has the highest average salary at $4.3 million, so at $4.2 million per year, this is right behind Gostkowski.

No contract extension

Alshon Jeffery, Trumaine Johnson, and Kirk Cousins will play out the season on the franchise tag. The next time they can work on a contract extension is after the 2016 regular season ends. This is the first time each player has been designated a franchise player. If they are designated as such next year, they have to be paid 120 percent of their salary this year.

Jeffery is the most intriguing of these three. It is possible he and the Chicago Bears will work out a contract extension next spring, but if not, will they use the tag again? He is due $14,599,000 this year. If the Bears tag him next year, 120 percent is $17,518,800. I would think they tag him rather than risk losing him for no more than a comp pick.

Cousins is going to be an interesting one to track this season. He took a huge step forward last season, completing 69.8 percent of his passes for 4,166 yards, and a TD/INT ratio of 29/11. The franchise tag made sense because Washington doesn’t know if he can build on that, or if he’ll regress from peak Cousins.