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Predicting How All 32 NFL Teams Use The Franchise Tag

Everyone gets so excited about the free agency class as soon as their team is out of the running for the Super Bowl. As a Patriots fan, I've been looking for a while, but that's never the whole story regarding the open market. Every team has the option to use a Franchise tag, which takes the player off this market.


Depending on the tag's exclusive or nonexclusive status, the FAs' crop reduces. Let's examine how every team could use the tag that heavily influences free-agency content. Some teams might not need it, so I am looking at this.


Arizona Cardinals Won't Use The Tag

The two players that could have the tag placed on them would be Marquise Brown at 20.7 million dollars, which is a bit of an overpay for Brown, Especially when they are projected to go and draft a top-tier receiver. The other player is Budda Baker, who has a 14 million-dollar club option.


Atlanta Falcons Has No Need For The Tag This Year

The key players on the Falcons are all under contract. Jeff Okudah is the closest thing they have to an impact player who could leave. Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree can all be signed for less money than what their tag number could be.


Baltimore Ravens Spend Tag On Defense

Some people say that Justin Madubuike is the candidate to get the tag, but I think they will use it on Patrick Queen. The Ravens are genuinely good at drafting and developing talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but they still had to trade for Roquan Smith. They value their linebacker play slightly more than the interior defensive line; they can find another good player to take that role on a rookie contract.


Buffalo Bills Can't Afford The Tag This Year

I think the Bills have some players they could use the tag, like Micah Hyde, Dane Jackson, or A.J. Epenesa. However, the Bills are going into 2024 with -51 million in cap space, which can be manipulated. Still, the tag is very rigid, and they can't afford to overpay one of these players, with the value being in the low 20 million for these positions.


Carolina Panthers Unexpectedly Don't Use The Tag

Everyone is saying that the Panthers use the Franchise Tag on Brian Burns, but I don't think that's smart because the cap number and his market value are only two million dollars apart. The Panthers have a lot of needs and must get creative with how they use the 31 million in cap room they do have. Burns is also a trade option, depending on how much they can bring back in return.


Frankie Luvu is another player who deserves a payday. Still, the number for the linebacker tag is so high I don't anticipate the Panthers paying 22 million for him, which is a shame cause he was a lone bright spot for this team in 2024.


Chicago Bears Only Have One Option With The Tag

Jaylon Johnson has proven his worth on the Bears, and in the NFL, they cannot let a player like this hit the open market. The tag for a cornerback is only 18.8 million. This is an excellent value for a superstar corner. He could easily make 20-23 million on the market or via a long-term extension in Chicago. Johnson is their best player on a good rising defense, and they cannot afford to lose him for no return.


Cincinnati Bengals Do What Everyone Thinks They Will

Tee Higgins is the only option here. Jonah Williams seems to be on the outs with the organization with how they've tried to keep adding tackles. DJ Reader is also a candidate, but he could test the market.


Higgins is a massive part of this offense's explosiveness and has a great connection with Burrow. The Bengals have 61 million in cap space, which can handle the 20.7 million dollar cap hit of the tag to Higgins so that they can work out a long-term deal over the course of this next year.

Cleveland Browns Don't Have Many Expiring Contracts

Za'Darius Smith is the biggest name that the Browns have to resign, but he is about to be 32 and hasn't done enough to demand the 20 million dollars defensive end tag. The Browns also have -20 million dollars in cap space, making using the tag this year tough. The DeShaun Watson contract is starting to hit them where it hurts.


Dallas Cowboys Utilize Tag On Offense

Tyron Smith could have been an option for this tag if he wasn't making 12 million from last year when his play slightly declined; they will have to find a deal that works for the team and him without the tag.


On the other hand, Tony Pollard would be a relatively one-for-one value-wise, giving them another year of control over Pollard. They will probably look to draft one of these backs in the draft to have him ready to go after next year. I do not see Pollard in Dallas in the long term.


Denver Broncos Holds On To The Tag In 2024

The Broncos roster is pretty much locked up going into 2024; Lloyd Cushenberry could be a candidate here as a stalling tactic to get the deal done, but if they can't and he takes the tag of 19.9 million dollars, that is a lot of money for a center, especially on that is very good but not one of the top tier at his position.

Detroit Lions Don't Need To Use The Tag

The Lions are in the top 10 in cap space with roughly 48 million, and most of the players on their roster should be able to get affordable extensions done to return to a team they enjoy playing for. Look for Detriot to retain most of their pending FAs.


Green Bay Packers Young Roster Has No Use For The Tag

The only impactful free agent for the Packers is Darnell Savage, who is a good player but doesn't command the type of capital it would tag to use the tag on him. AJ Dillion hasn't panned out to be the next coming of Derrick Henry, and the rest of the upcoming free agents are back-of-the-roster players.


Houston Texans Find Extensions More Important Than Tag

There are a couple of players who could get tagged, like Dalton Shultz, Jonathan Greenard, and Derrek Barnett. Still, if Houston is trying to maximize this rookie window, they should stay away from the large-cap hit the tag brings and work on extensions that are more minor hits to continue to bring in more talent with the 65 million dollars in cap space they have. Extensions can be manipulated, but the franchise tag cannot be.


Indianapolis Colts Keep A Top Option From Hitting The Market

As much as it pains me as a Patriots fan wanting to spend on a weapon, Michael Pittman Jr will most likely be tagged. It is the right move for the franchise because they have 66 million dollars and are building towards the future.


Pittman can be the top option because he is young and homegrown. He will likely make over 20 million in any extension or new contract. The tag is at 20.7 million. This is good value and gives them time to lock him up. No one else on the roster is worth the tag beside him.


Jacksonville Jaguars Won't Let Their Star Hit The Market

Josh Allen is expected to be one of the highest-paid players at his position, with the ability to make between 20-25 million, which is around what he can make with the tag, depending on whether he classifies as an end or an outside linebacker. Allen is too significant of a piece on and off the field. As a leader and a player, they can let him go for nothing.


Kansas City Chiefs Have To Tag One Of Their Star Defenders

Chris Jones would be the obvious answer if he hadn't already been tagged last season. The cost would increase from 20 million for an interior defensive end to 32 million. This still might be worth it, as he is the most underrated part of this Chiefs dynasty, the ultimate current big game player.


The other way they can go is by tagging L'Jarius Sneed for the 18.8 number, which would be close to his market value, and they get a large piece of their Super Bowl-winning defense. Ultimately, I think KC works the cap, gets both back, and signs a premium weapon for Mahomes.


Las Vegas Raiders Won't Use The Tag In This Cycle

Josh Jacobs is the only player worthy of the tag, but they already did last season so that this tag would be almost 15 million. They have 43 million but are looking to invest in the offensive line and possibly the secondary. I don't think they have the money to tag Jacobs again; I hope he hits the open market and goes to a team like Houston.


Los Angeles Chargers Can't Afford The Tag

I would say Eckler is an easy candidate for the franchise tag, but the Chargers are -44 million in cap space and have a lot of work to do to get back into the green; I don't think they can afford to pay an aging running back almost 11 million dollars without any wiggle room of future years.


Los Angeles Rams Keep A Homegrown Lineman

Kevin Dotson played exceptionally well after the trade to the Rams. He is a perfect fit for this McVay scheme and deserves to get an extension there. The Rams should tag him so they can extend him before the start of the next season, where he could raise his value even more. The Rams can't let one of their best linemen go, especially since they have the cap space (35.4 million) to handle the tag and the extension.


Miami Dolphins Can't Squeeze Any More From The Cap

Like some other teams, the Dolphins will have to do some work to shave that -51 million. I don't think using a roughly 20 million-dollar rigid tag on Christian Wilkins, Robert Hunt, and Conor Williams will most likely be on new teams in 2024. The Dolphins still have to extend Tua and Jaylen Waddle; I don't think they have enough money to use it this season.

Minnesota Vikings Tag A Key Defender

The Vikings can't afford a 35 million-dollar cap hit in 2024. They only have 28.8 million to spend, so Kirk Cousins will get extended or move to a new team. Obviously, they can move some money to create more space, but tagging Kirk with that doesn't improve the unit from last season.


They will tag Danielle Hunter, which is still pricy between 20 and 23 million. That doesn't mean he will play at that number. It just gives them more time to work out an extension, and if they can't, they could trade him in April for a decent pick. I can't imagine the Vikings losing two of their most important players on both sides of the ball.


New England Patriots Tag Big Man Up Front

Michael Onwenu should be priority number one for the Patriots; he has positional versatility and can anchor an offensive line with holes to fill. Some say Dugger or Hunter Henry, but the trench needs the most work, and Onwenu seemed most likely to leave. Tag him, which gives the team more time to show they can turn everything around.


Dugger and Henry should get extensions, while New England uses the tag on Onwenu because if he leaves, you are starting from scratch in the trenches, which is dangerous. If he plays on the tag number, he gets a decent bump from his market value, from 13-15 million to the 19.9 million the tag gives him. This team can't allow talent to leave for nothing, especially with nearly 70 million in cap space.


New Orleans Saints Need Financial Help

The Saints have the worst cap situation in the NFL, with a whopping number of -81 million dollars. They will have to go through hoops to sign their rookie class, let alone spend 20 million on Anders Peat (who would be the only player worth tagging that is up).


New York Giants Surprise Everyone By Letting Barkley Go

Saquan is the popular choice for the tag, but It would be the second tag and cost around 12.5 million dollars; even though he didn't play on the tag last season, he was offered it, which still gets the 120% salary increase if tagged again. It's time for them to part ways. It is what's best for both parties.


A player they can not afford to let go would be Xavier McKinney, looking for around a 15-17 million-dollar-a-year extension, which aligns with the 16.2 million tag number for safeties. He is a great player and lynchpin in the secondary for the Giants, and he is only 24, so he hasn't even hit his prime yet.


New York Jets Have To Stay Away From The Tag

Some good players need to be extended this offseason, like Bryce Huff, Bryce Hall, Chuck Clark, and Connor McGovern, but none of these guys are worth playing on the tag if they don't get an extension. The Jets are also in a tough spot cap-wise, stilling at 7.5 million in space, so the tag doesn't make sense when they need to do some magic to add to this team from the get-go.


Philadelphia Eagles Play Tag With Themselves

At first, I thought about having them tag Swift, but paying 10 million for him seems like an overpay when the class is full of capable RBs. Jason Kelce, if he comes back, will get an extension; Fletcher Cox isn't going to bring a 10 million dollar raise by being tagged. The Eagles will keep on keeping on with new vibes and a virtually similar team.


Pittsburgh Steelers Have No One Worth Tagging This Cycle

The Steelers don't have many people with contracts expiring this offseason that are that meaningful to the team's success. Most of the roster will be returning moving into 2024. The most impactful player they might need to extend is Chukwuma Okorafor, who plays as a swing tackle and a backup. The Steelers have some contracts to look at so they can make moves this offseason cause right now, they are sitting at -4.3 million in space.


San Francisco 49ers Need to Justify This Trade With A Tag

The 49ers need to tag Chase Young, even though it's expensive. They need every chance they can get to extend him; otherwise, they gave up a pick to lose in the Super Bowl, and watching him walk after that would be quite difficult. I highly doubt that Young plays this season with a 20 million dollar cap hit cause the 49ers only have a little over 500,000 in space.


Seattle Seahawks Are Feeling How The 49ers Do

Seattle gave up a top-50 pick to bring in Leonard Williams, who was supposed to put them into the Super Bowl conversation, but the offensive side of the ball stalled out, and they missed the playoffs. Williams is still an outstanding player who can help them, especially since Mike MacDonald is there to call the defense. They have to tag him and figure out some extension, so their pick wasn't given away for subpar rental production.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Can't Let This Star Reach Free Agency

Many people will think that player would be Mike Evans, but Antoine Winfield Jr might be the team's best player and possibly the best safety in the league. The Bucs can't afford to let this guy hit the open market and bounce; he is the centerpiece of this defense moving forward.


At the very least, tag him and try to trade him for a top-50 pick if they know they can't reach a deal. The Bucs have 43 million in cap space, so they could tag Winfield and extend Evans. It doesn't have to be an either-or situation.


Tennessee Titans Are In A Reset Year

I wouldn't risk any of this cap space on these players. The Titans are clearly moving into their next era, which doesn't include Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, or Denico Autry. Azeez Al-Shair and Aaron Brewer aren't the type of players you tag because they would play on the tag and make that guaranteed money. It's a complete reset with a new regime with 73 million to spend this year.


Washington Commanders Use The Tag In Their Secondary

Kendall Fuller is a compelling option for the franchise tag in Washington, but he is about to be 30. Is it great to be on the hook for 18.8 million dollars if the negotiations don't reach a deal? I think Kamren Curl is the player that the Commanders should take. His market value (14-16 million) is more in line with the safety tag number of 16.2 million, and he is about to turn 25 this year, so keeping him from the open market would be a better move cause he would be a more sought-after commodity.


End Of Rant

This stage of the off-season is crucial to every team's consequential moves, and most content creators want to jump to free agency and predict the biggest contracts to be signed or which team will get the shiny new toy. However, some of the best players don't even get to make it to the market due to what happens in the franchise tag window. Now that this is predicted, I can make a more accurate hypothesis about what will happen in free agency.


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