The NFL deadline for teams to use the franchise tag is Wednesday, March 1, and we have the first action of the period. The Arizona Cardinals have designated linebacker Chandler Jones as their franchise player. He came into the league as a defensive end, but has played outside linebacker in the Cardinals defense.
The 49ers had not been connected to Jones, but he was an edge rusher that certainly could have been an intriguing option. Barring use of the exclusive tag, teams can still technically negotiate with Jones, but if they sign him to an offer sheet and Arizona does not match, the new team would have to give up a pair of first round picks.
We will hear more designations announced over the next 48 hours, but Adam Schefter threw out a few names. The most notable names for the San Francisco 49ers are Washington QB Kirk Cousins, Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short, and San Diego Chargers edge rusher Melvin Ingram.
Other players expected to be tagged by Wednesday deadline include Kirk Cousins, Le'Veon Bell, Kawann Short, Melvin Ingram, Trumaine Johnson.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2017
If there was no franchise tag, I have to think Cousins and Ingram would be firmly on the 49ers radar. Instead, odds are good neither will be leaving their respective teams this year. Next year however, Cousins is a strong bet to depart in free agency. If Kyle Shanahan really wants Cousins as his quarterback, maybe he waits to get him next year without having to give up draft pick compensation.