The first step for the NFL offseason is for teams to put franchise or transition tags on one of their high level free agents. Franchise tags do not allow players to sign with any other team and pay the players at top five market value. Transition tags are different, as they play less than franchise tags. They also allow teams to match any contract offer the player tagged with it gets. Tags are only for a single season and do not count against the cap if the player is traded before the season begins. Here are the players who received a tag before the deadline and how I feel about them receiving their tag.
Kenyan Drake: A
After getting traded to Arizona, Drake transitioned from a change-of-pace running back to a difference maker on the field. The Cardinals could not let him leave the building.
Matthew Judon: A-
The Ravens could not let Judon test the market after leading the team in sacks. There is a good chance the Ravens look to move Judon before the draft instead of trying to extend him long term.
AJ Green: B-
Even though AJ Green didn’t play a down last year he is still a talented extremely player. But at his age it doesn’t make sense to hold on in Cincinnati another year when he isn’t going to be a part of the future of the team headlined likely by Joe Burrow.
Dak Prescott: B+
As expected, the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott could not agree to terms on an extension by the March 16 franchise tag deadline. The Cowboys will stay in the playoff/Super Bowl hunt with Prescott under center. But there is the possibility Prescott might not report to camp if the Cowboys expect him to play on a franchise tag. Under a new head coach this could get messier than the Kirk Cousins situation with the Redskins.
Justin Simmons: A
Justin Simmons is one of the best young safeties in the league. There was no chance the Broncos would let him hit the open market. Now, John Elway’s next move should be to sign Simmons long term.
Yannick Ngakoue: B
Yannick Ngakoue is one of the league’s best young edge rushers at 24 years old. Unfortunately for Jacksonville, Ngakoue does not want to be there. This grade will go up if they trade him for his market value. But if they trade him for below his value or keeps him for next season this grade will drop.
Chris Jones: A
The Kansas City Chiefs are keeping their best defensive player in the building coming off their Super Bowl Victory. It is very hard to find a defensive tackle with the ability to get after the quarterback like Jones. If they keep him on their roster for another season or trade him for more draft capital this is a great move for the Super Bowl champions.
Hunter Henry: B+
Hunter Henry is one of the league’s best at his position, one that has a few elite players around the league. Henry could have reset the tight end market. This is a one year prove-it deal for a player that has dealt with injuries throughout his career. This move helps the Chargers offense for whoever their new quarterback is next year.
Anthony Harris: B
After Mike Zimmer said “safety is not an important position on D”, the Vikings paid their free agent safety market price with the franchise tag. Harris is an extremely valuable piece to have on defense. On a defense that should look vastly different next year, Harris is a familiar face that will be there in 2020.
Joe Thuney: B+
Regardless of who their quarterback is in 2020, the New England Patriots’ offense is going to be run heavy. Thuney has started every single game for the Patriots since entering the league. After offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia retired, it was very important to keep their offensive line unit together.
Leonard Williams: D+
This seemed to be a desperation move to try and cover a mistake. The Giants gave up a third-round pick for Williams and he didn’t play well during his time in Big Blue. Now Williams is getting paid like an elite defensive tackle, though he is an average starter at best.
Bud Dupree: C+
Dupree finally looked like an elite level pass rusher in a contract year having 11.5 sacks and being a huge part of an elite defense. This feels like a trap, Dupree was playing for the money and could regress when he is on a long term deal. The Steelers also still have to clear some room to keep Dupree in house another year.
Shaquil Barrett: A
Shaq Barrett finally broke out in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Barrett won second-team All-Pro for his 19.5 sack season. Todd Bowles knows how to get the best play out of Shaq Barrett and it would be great for both side for them to stay together for 2020 and beyond.
Derrick Henry: A-
Derrick Henry carried the Titans on his back throughout the regular and postseason. After leading the league in rushing, Henry wants and deserves to get paid. Finding a number that both a team is comfortable with and a player wants is hard to find when it comes to running backs. The Titans will have to figure it out with Henry or else he could possibly sit out the season and/or sign elsewhere next season.
Brandon Scherff: B+
The Washington Redskins are keeping one of the best guards in all of football in house. The Redskins must show Scherff that they are making strides to improve as a team and organization in order for him to sign long term. Scherff should be a big part of the Redskins future.