2023 NFL franchise tag tracker: Lamar Jackson, Daniel Jones up in air

NFL free agency is right around the corner, and some teams have some pricey decisions to make before the new league year starts on March 15.

Teams are able to place the franchise tag on prospective unrestricted free agents through Tuesday. Each team can only tag one player, which is a fully guaranteed deal for one season if the player opts to play.

There are two main types of franchise tags: non-exclusive, which means that NFL players can still negotiate with other teams following the application of the tag, and exclusive, which prevents players from negotiating with other teams. Transition tags are also one-year contract offers. Players who receive this tag can negotiate with other teams, but the tagging team has the right to match any offer.

Franchise tag figures are based on the top five salaries at each position, while transition tags pay out an average of the top 10 salaries at the player’s position. Regardless of the type of tag, both players and teams can still agree to a long-term deal before training camp even if the tag is used. Last season, eight players were franchise tagged.

Follow along here for the latest news and rumors:

Expected to be tagged

Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys plan to franchise tag Pollard if the two sides can’t agree to a long-term contract by Tuesday, the NFL Network reported Friday. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones previously told reporters at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine that the team would “more than likely” use the franchise tag, but the verdict was still out on whom.

Franchise tag salary: $10.091 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 1,007 yards, 12 total touchdowns (nine rushing, three receiving)
Why it matters: Pollard topped 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his four-year NFL career last season, becoming a key part of Dallas’ offense and, at times, taking over the starting role for an injured Ezekiel Elliott. His 1,007 yards and 12 scores in 2022 were both career highs for the former fourth-round draft pick. Pollard’s postseason was cut short when he fractured his left fibula in the Cowboys’ divisional-round matchup, which required offseason surgery.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders plan to place the franchise tag on Jacobs if the two sides can’t reach a contract agreement by Tuesday’s deadline, the NFL Network reported Friday.

Franchise tag salary: $10.091 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 1,653 yards, 12 touchdowns
Why it matters: Jacobs, 25, was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2022, becoming the first Raider to do so since Marcus Allen in 1985. He also led the league in yards from scrimmage (2,053). He was named first-team All-Pro and was selected to his second Pro Bowl. Jacobs has rushed for 4,740 yards and 40 touchdowns in his four-year career while catching 160 passes for 1,152 yards. The Raiders previously opted not to exercise the former first-rounder’s fifth-year option last offseason.

Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags are expected to franchise tag Engram after his strong first season in Jacksonville, ESPN reported Thursday.

Franchise tag salary: $11.345 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 73 receptions, 766 yards, four touchdowns
Why it matters: The sixth-year tight end had a career-high 73 catches for 766 yards and four scores in 2022, reeling in 74.5% of his passes from QB Trevor Lawrence. Engram, 28, spent the first five years of his NFL career with the New York Giants after being selected 23rd overall in 2017. He boasts 335 career catches for 3,594 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Officially tagged

Daron Payne, DT, Washington Commanders

Payne was the first player to receive the franchise tag this offseason, with the Commanders using the non-exclusive tag, the team announced on Feb. 28.

Franchise tag salary: $18.937 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 64 total tackles (32 solo), 11.5 sacks, 20 QB hits, five passes, one fumble recovered
Why it matters: Payne is entering his sixth NFL season after originally being selected by Washington as the 13th overall pick in 2018. The 25-year-old became the seventh defensive tackle in franchise history to be selected to a Pro Bowl. His career-high 11.5 sacks last season were third among defensive tackles, and he was second among all tackles with 21 tackles for a loss. Payne, who has started 75 games in his five-year NFL career, boasts 162 tackles and 26 sacks all-time.

Up in the air

Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Jackson — arguably the headline name of the 2023 free-agency class — is seeking a fully-guaranteed multi-year deal of roughly $50 million per year, but the Ravens are reluctant to give him such a deal, ESPN previously reported. 

Franchise tag salary: $32.416 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 62.3% completion rate, 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns, seven interceptions in 12 games
Why it matters: The Ravens are reportedly expected to place the franchise tag on 2019 NFL MVP, although it’s unclear which tag he would receive. The non-exclusive franchise tag would allow other teams to negotiate a deal with him, while the exclusive franchise tag, which prevents teams from negotiating a deal, would pay Jackson roughly $45 million, per ESPN. “I covet great players, I covet quarterbacks, and I love Lamar,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said Wednesday. “We want to do what’s best for the club. We try to do what we can for Lamar. We want to make everybody happy.”

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Jones will be headed toward a franchise tag if the two sides can’t agree to a long-term deal, which seems more and more likely as the deadline approaches. Giants general manager Joe Schoen recently told NFL Network that he wished the team was “a little bit closer on a deal than what we are right now” but that “there’s still time.”

Franchise tag salary: $32.416 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 67.2% completion rate, 3,205 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions
Why it matters: Jones will be the Giants’ starting quarterback in 2023 — one way or another — according to Schoen, who has been in “constant contact” with Jones’ agents about signing him to a long-term deal. Jones is reportedly seeking a deal worth more than $40 million per season, while the Giants prefer to keep his contract closer to $35 million per year.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Another big name New York has on its radar is Barkley. If the Giants and Jones can agree to an extension prior to Tuesday’s deadline and Barkley is without a deal, the star running back is likely to receive the team’s lone franchise tag.

Franchise tag salary: $10.091 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 1,312 yards, 10 touchdowns
Why it matters: Schoen previously told reporters that they haven’t “totally bridged” the gap but are “a little bit closer” on closing a deal with Barkley, the second overall pick by the Giants in 2018. Barkley, 26, was selected to a Pro Bowl after his first season and earned NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors before battling injuries in 2019 and 2020 that derailed his next two seasons. He became a two-time Pro Bowler in 2022 after racking up the fourth-most rushing yards last season.

Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks general manager John Schneider recently told reporters that contract talks with Smith are “looking very good” but declined to say if the team would use the franchise tag Smith if an extension agreement wasn’t reached by Tuesday.

Franchise tag salary: $32.416 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 69.8% completion rate, 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
Why it matters: Last season was a turning point in the 32-year-old Smith’s career, as he went from being a backup journeyman for most of the past seven seasons to a Pro Bowler and the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. Smith, who played on a one-year, $3.5 million deal last season, and the Seahawks — are reportedly “intent on getting a deal done.”

Orlando Brown Jr., OT, Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach told reporters at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine that it is “more beneficial for us to get something done long-term” with Brown but said that using the franchise tag on him is “an option.”

Franchise tag salary: $18.244 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 1,133 offensive snaps played, four sacks allowed 
Why it matters: Brown previously received the franchise tag from K.C. in 2022. Because he was franchised tagged last offseason, his franchise tag cost in 2023 would be a bit more than other offensive linemen.

Jessie Bates III, S, Cincinnati Bengals

It was previously suggested that Bates could be a franchise tag candidate for Cincinnati again this offseason, per ESPN.

Franchise tag salary: $14.46 million guaranteed
2022–23 stats: 71 total tackles (38 solo), four interceptions
Why it matters: Bates played on the franchise tag in 2022 after he wasn’t able to come to an agreement with the Bengals on a long-term extension. Cincinnati then used its 2022 first-round pick to draft Bates’ anticipated replacement, Dax Hill. 

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