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NFL 2016 Franchise Tags: Who got tagged?

This evening saw the deadline for teams to decide if they would exercise their right to franchise


  This evening saw the deadline for teams to decide if they would exercise their right to franchise tag an impending free agent. 10 teams ended up using that privilege and locked players out of free agency for another year. Here are those who will be staying put, barring a surprise trade offer or hold out, for 2016. Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams Johnson is far from a household name but it’s a move that makes sense for the Rams. With most of their starting secondary headed to free agency the Rams had to hold onto someone for the sake of continuity in 2016. While it’s arguable that Janoris Jenkins is a better player than Johnson he still has some maturity and character concerns that Johnson doesn’t have, so it makes sense to hold on to the sure thing. They have enough cap room to make some splashes in free agency, or bring Jenkins back as well. Johnson will get nearly $14 million for the upcoming season should he play under the tag, not a bad payday for someone the casual fan might not know even plays. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs It’s not a surprise to see the All-Pro safety be tagged. While Berry’s level of play and importance to the Chiefs defense is inarguable, there are no doubt lingering concerns about his long-term health which made contract talks difficult. It might sound cold to suggest that would be a consideration but this is a business as well as a sport. While I’m sure these two sides will eventually agree on a deal it makes sense to tag Berry and keep building to a deal that is best for both parties. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins This was the only real option for the Redskins. Cousins surprised many people with a very good 2015 season, but is that really who he is? If so then the $19.9 million he’ll earn playing under the franchise tag in 2016 isn’t unreasonable. If he slips next year then Washington will have a better idea of his true value and can offer him a long term deal that is more team-friendly than it would have been if they signed one now. Josh Norman, CB, Carolina Panthers Norman is another who overperformed in 2015. His season was outstanding but it was also an anomaly with where he used to be, paying him based off of that would be a risk that Carolina couldn’t take, especially after they just got out from all the bad deals of the Marty Hurney era. Cordy Glenn, LT, Buffalo Bills Glenn has been getting better year on year for the Bills. Finding a good left tackle at the start of the second round is like winning the draft day lottery but after developing well they now have to decide just how good he is? Do they pay Glenn like Joe Thomas, Joe Staley and Tyron Smith now, or let him prove it for another year and risk paying him even more later? There’s no doubt he deserves a top level contract for me, I’ve been a big fan of his since the draft process and he’s done nothing but impress since. Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos This is the least surprising move. After Miller wrecked the Patriots and Panthers in the playoffs Denver were never going to allow him to leave. This is only a stop-gap on the way to a contract that will probably be the biggest for a defensive player in NFL history. Of course tagging Miller does mean QB Brock Osweiler will hit the open market which leads to questions over the future of an already shaky Broncos offense. Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami Dolphins Vernon has been an up and down player for most of his career. In 2015 he had some great games and some poor ones. It’s not a shocking decision that Miami decided to use the transition tag on him but it is a risky one. They will be able to match any contract offered by another team, but if no one else comes in with a long-term offer for Vernon that he finds acceptable Miami will be on the hook for $12.7 million in 2016 with a player that is inconsistent. Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens The use of franchise tags on kickers is always a touchy subject. It’s not really in the spirit of the rule since Kickers are, by and large, not that important. Tucker is a very good kicker, and will be making $4.5 million in 2016 but he’s in the grand scheme of things he’s not going to be winning many games for the Ravens by himself in the manner of Kirk Cousins or Von Miller can. Muhammad Wilkerson, DE, New York Jets Wilkerson is one of those “take over a game, win it by himself” kind of players that don’t come along that often. In a world without JJ Watt we would be hailing Wilkerson as the best 3-4 DE in the league. 36.5 sacks in 5 years, which includes 10.5 in 2013 & 12 in 2015 when he made his first Pro Bowl. While the Jets have invested a lot of first round picks in their defensive line Wilkerson is the team’s best player, yes even over Revis, and they simply have to keep him around for as long as they can. Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears Jeffery is a terrific player. While he’s had some injury issues in his 4 years in Chicago he has been near-uncoverable when on the field and an impressive red zone target for Jay Cutler at 6 foot 4 and 230lbs.   That’s the 10 players who have been tagged, so who does that leave for the free agency market? Well Brock Osweiler is one name that will doubtless interest teams like Cleveland and Los Angeles who could use a change at Quarterback. Recently cut players like Mario Williams, James Laurinaitis and Matt Forte will garner interest, as well as reclamation projects like Morris Claiborne, Shea McClellin and Aldon Smith are sure to intrigue some GM’s and coaches. Its sure to be a very busy free agency period, despite the 10 players who will not be fielding calls from teams this off-season.  


Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.

 

I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL 2016 Franchise Tags: Who got tagged?

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