The franchise tag deadline is in the rearview mirror. In this column, we look at the notable tags that were dished out and their implications for the players tagged and, in turn, their respective teams. As well, we look at the latest NFL odds markets for additional insight on both scores.
Who Got Tagged?
- Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
- Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders
- Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Daron Payne, DT, Washington Commanders
NFL Franchise Tags
The NFL franchise tag deadline this offseason was set for Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET. The oft-used designation [tag] to retain a player that is due to become an unrestricted free agent was used in six cases across the league. Most notably, in Baltimore, where the Ravens tagged quarterback Lamar Jackson in lieu of a contract agreement.
NFL teams have the choice of an exclusive or non-exclusive tag. The difference comes down to the restrictions or lack thereof in each case. With the former, a player once tagged is not allowed to negotiate with other teams. Whereas the latter allows the player in question to negotiate with other teams after getting tagged.
1. Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Shut the front door! Lamar Jackson got tagged! Shocker! Hardly. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, reports of the fifth-year quarterback’s contract negotiations have dominated NFL news headlines since last offseason. The absence of an agreement before the start of the 2022 NFL season was a clear indication that Jackson and the Ravens’ front office were finding it difficult to come to agreeable terms. And with no agreement materializing since then that would cement Jackson’s future in Baltimore, a tag was inevitable.
According to NFL insiders, Baltimore placed Jackson on a non-exclusive tag. This means that the 2019 NFL MVP can entertain advances from other suitors in the league when free agency begins on Monday (March 13). Should Jackson be offered a deal from one of those, the Ravens have the right to match it or part ways and receive two first-round draft picks in exchange.
Statement from GM Eric DeCosta: pic.twitter.com/LOnW8XpPL5
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 7, 2023
The quarterback tag is worth $32.416 million. For Jackson to be tempted to bid adieu to the team that gave him his start in the league, the offer would have to top that. So, it’s going to be interesting to see how the league values Jackson’s skill set in free agency and whether there is a team that believes he’s worth more.
NFL betting fans will want to pay close attention because the Ravens, right now, are among the so-called Super Bowl contenders priced at +2200 at the sportsbook exchange – odds that are underscored by the assumption that Jackson is going to be the starter in 2023. It’s hard to imagine Baltimore holding its own among the top 10 best bets without him.
2. Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
The New York Giants appear to have prioritized paying quarterback Daniel Jones over running back Saquon Barkley, knocking up a $160 million deal for the fifth-year quarterback and tagging Barkley just before Tuesday’s deadline.
The deal will make Jones the seventh highest-paid quarterback in the league. At the same time, the tag delivers Barkley to the Giants at a discount. Was it the right decision? Only time will tell.
The fact is, Jones, a former sixth overall pick, struggled since day one in the NFL. Granted, with the advent of Brian Daboll in 2022, Jones flourished under the no-nonsense, first-year head coach. He enjoyed the best season of his career, throwing for 3,205 yards, 15 touchdowns, and five interceptions. But let’s face it, those numbers aren’t of the dizzying variety.
Jones wasn’t the only one to flourish under the new regime. Many players did, as the G-men navigated a course into the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Barkley, too, had a banner season, rushing for 1,312 yards and 10 scores.
According to NFL insiders, Barkley was placed on a non-exclusive tag, meaning he can flirt with other prospective teams next week when free agency officially gets underway on Monday.
Given Barkley’s history with injuries, it raises questions about the market for him. Specifically, how bullish is it going to be? Keep in mind, the Giants have the right to match any offer or receive two first-round picks as compensation. Surely, no team is going to give up two first-round picks for a running back with his health track record.
Giants have placed the Franchise Tag on Saquon Barkley. pic.twitter.com/vIDcfRjfe1
— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) March 7, 2023
3. Josh Jacobs, RB, Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders tagged Josh Jacobs on Monday in lieu of a long-term deal. The star rusher received his first All-pro nod and second Pro Bowl nomination in 2022 after leading the league with 1, 653 rushing yards.
Jacobs was placed on a non-exclusive tag that will pay him the standard $10, 091 million for a one-year deal for tagged running backs. As with all non-exclusive franchise tag-ees, the 25-year-old rusher can entertain bids from other teams when free agency kicks off next week. But just as with Barkley, the question is: Does Jacobs merit an offer that would see a team relinquish two first-round picks?
Also, it’s worth noting that the Raiders have until July 17 to carve out a deal with Jacobs – that’s this year’s deadline for players tagged to reach an agreement with their teams. Other scenarios include Jacobs refusing to play on the tag and sitting out 2023 or demanding a trade.
4. Evan Engram, TE, Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars tagged Evan Engram after the tight end completed a successful season in his first year with the AFC South champions.
Engram, 28, came to the Jaguars after five seasons with the Giants. He took a gamble by signing a one-year deal that paid off in some respects. The tight end had one of his best seasons under Doug Pederson and Co., putting up 766 yards and four touchdowns on 73 receptions. Whether he stays in Jacksonville is up in the air. That said, should he find a home elsewhere, it’s hard to see his departure having a significant impact.
Jacksonville is favored at -140 to win the AFC South for a second-straight season – a betting online outlook that is largely fueled by the undeniable symbiotic relationship between Pederson and his young quarterback, Trevor Lawrence.
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) March 6, 2023
5. Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
Running back Tony Pollard was placed on the non-exclusive tag by the Dallas Cowboys. Pollard was an impact player in the ground game, putting up 1,378 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he outshined longtime Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot.
The Cowboys are almost certainly hoping to come to terms with Pollard by tagging him, and they have several options before them – all of which have been cited above.
It’s worth noting that Elliot’s status could impact Pollard’s position in Dallas. Jerry Jones must decide whether to restructure or release Elliot before the start of the 2023 season if it becomes impossible to keep both on the roster.
6. Daron Payne, DT, Commanders
The Washington Commanders didn’t waste time, tagging defensive tackle Daron Payne as far back as Feb. 28. Indeed, the Commanders were the first team in the league to pull the trigger on the franchise tag. Whatever happens with Payne between now and the start of the 2023 season, the reality is that Washington is in rebuild mode. The ebb and flow of players is unlikely to impact the sports betting markets as far as the Commanders’ odds are concerned.
Washington DT Daron Payne became the first player this off-season to receive the franchise tag, per sources. The franchise tag for Payne is projected to be $18.937 million. Washington placed the tag on Payne early this morning. pic.twitter.com/cmbeaRciig
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 28, 2023