The deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition players have passed and, as usual, there was a flurry of activity in the hours leading up to the 1 p.m. PT deadline on Tuesday. There were reports, reports on those reports, official reports that weren’t official at all, and all the usual fun stuff that comes with a deadline in the modern NFL.
The San Francisco 49ers did not use the franchise tag, as expected. Nor did they use the transition tag, as expected. They have some big-name free agents like running back Carlos Hyde and safety Eric Reid, and while I’d like both players back, the tag would have been a hard sell for either.
Teams have until July 16 to negotiate a long-term deal with franchise tagged players. They have until July 23 to do the same for transition tagged players. For an explainer on the different types of tags, we’ve got you covered right here.
Multiple players were given the franchise tag, and each situation is a little different, so we’ll take a quick look at what went down with each below.
WR Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (Non-Exclusive): The Dolphins have commitment problems with Landry, and word is they used the franchise tag, which will pay him nearly $16 million in 2018, provided he doesn’t sign a long-term contract — whether with the Dolphins or another team after a trade.
EDGE Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions (Non-Exclusive): It’s a rough market for pass rushers, and the Lions would have been foolish to let Ansah hit the open market. They want to work out a long-term deal after he bounced back from an injury-riddled 2016 season to post 12 sacks this past year. The tag will pay him just over $17 million, so that’s the starting point.
EDGE: Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Non-Exclusive): Like Ansah, the Cowboys would have been foolish to let Lawrence hit free agency. A slew of teams would jump to sign him. He’s almost worth targeting under the non-exclusive tag, but that doesn’t really happen. Lawrence had a breakout year in 2017, with 14.5 sacks and his first Pro Bowl appearance.
S Lamarcus Joyner, Los Angeles Rams (Non-Exclusive): For the Rams, it came down to tagging either Joyner or wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The latter is a good player with a very high upside, but after trading for Marcus Peters and likely losing Trumaine Johnson in free agency, it made sense to keep the secondary a strength by keeping Joyner around.
RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (Exclusive): This is the second-straight year the Steelers have tagged Bell, who is adamant that he is worth not only more than every other running back, but more than the franchise tag will pay him after being used twice in a row: $14.544 million. He thinks he should be paid as well as a receiver because he considers himself the second-best receiver on the team. He’s threatened retirement if the Steelers use the tag, but nobody really believes that will happen.
CB Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears (Transition): There were initial reports that Fuller wouldn’t be tagged, but here we are. The Bears placed the transition tag on him, which pays slightly less, a little over $12 million as opposed to a little under $15 million, and allows other teams to negotiate with him without offering up compensation to the Bears. Chicago, though, can match all offers. They believe in Fuller, and while he’s not technically off the table — any free agent deal would start around the transition tag number anyway — he’s going to be hard to take from them.