Sean Pendergast

Deadline For NFL Franchise Tagged Players To Sign Long-Term Deals Looms

Dak Prescott is going to be a very wealthy man in 2020, with or without a long term deal.
Dak Prescott is going to be a very wealthy man in 2020, with or without a long term deal. Photo by Eric Sauseda
A year ago at this time, Houston Texan fans were dealing with the pending drama of the July 15 deadline for players on the franchise tag to sign a long term deal. It was the Jadeveon Clowney Situation (absolutely deserving of "proper noun" status), and it was an unnecessary point of stress in my summertime fun, I must say! That said, I'd trade it in for the pending drama of whether or not there will be DAMN SEASON AT ALL any day of the week, but I digress.

This year, there are 14 players in the NFL who have been hit with the franchise tag by their respective teams, most of whom have signed their tender sheet (11 of the 14, in total), but none of whom seem close to getting a long term deal done. At least, that's how it appears.

Let's go through all 14 very quickly, and see if we expect any activity in the next day or so. (Also, any of these that indirectly affect the Texans, we will make note of as well.)

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott
This is the big one. I'm guessing Patrick Mahomes' new $500 million deal did nothing to help jolt this negotiation, which has been fairly cold since Prescott rejected a five-year, $175 million offer earlier this year. My guess is that Prescott plays 2020 under the tag, and maybe even 2021, before hitting the jackpot in free agency in 2022.

Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon
Judon is a former fifth round pick who was deployed perfectly in the Ravens' scheme. I don't think the Ravens see him as a true game changing piece worthy of a big, long-term deal. The franchise tag is perfect for Judon.

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry
Henry is a supremely talented player, a former second round pick, who's played 12 games over the last two seasons. The Chargers want to keep him, but he needs to put together a healthy season before he gets the big time cheddar.

Washington guard Brandon Scherff
Honestly, if there's a good player less relevant than a guard for the woeful Redskins, show him to me. I have no idea, nor do I care, what happens with Scherff.

Patriots guard Joe Thuney
I doubt the Patriots are going to pay big, long-term money to a guard, but they like Thuney enough to keep him around for another year. They did get some cap relief, about $7 million worth, this week thanks to cap settlements with Antonio Brown and the late Aaron Hernandez on guaranteed money they'd paid both.

Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree
Buccaneers linebacker Shaq Barrett
Both Dupree and Barrett appear to far from getting long term deals done, and on top of that, both are filing grievances to be considered at the defensive end tag rate, which is a couple million dollars higher than the linebacker rate. There was a similar dynamic with Clowney in 2019, and he ended up playing under the linebacker tag rate.

Titans running back Derrick Henry
It's not a great time to try to get paid huge, if you're an NFL running back, with the biggest deals going down in the last few years at the position not really working out — Todd Gurley (cut by the Rams, signed with Atlanta), David Johnson (traded from the Cards to the Texans), Le'Veon Bell (rough first season in New York), and Ezekiel Elliott (numbers down in 2019, maturity issues still lurking). Henry led the league in touches last season, not a great harbinger for long term productivity.

Giants defensive tackle Leonard Williams
This is one of the stranger franchise tags, as it appears Williams is being rewarded still, all these seasons after being a top ten pick, for his potential rather than his productivity. I wouldn't pay him on long term deal either, if I were the Giants, but I doubt I'd even use a tag on him in the first place.

Vikings safety Anthony Harris
Harris was undrafted coming out of college in 2015, and has slowly built himself into one of the better safeties in the league. The franchise tag salary will feel like a lotto ticket for a guy who lived his first few seasons wondering if he'd stick in the league.

Broncos safety Justin Simmons
Simmons is one of the bright young safeties in the game, and would seem like an ideal guy to pay, given that the Broncos have QB Drew Lock on a rookie deal for three more years.

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green
Poor A.J. Green. A franchise tag in Cincinnati has to feel like the VIP booth at the seediest, most disgusting strip club on the planet.

Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue
The Jags are likely looking trade Ngakoue as they continue to stockpile draft picks in what will be a very thinly veiled "tanking for Trevor Lawrence" season.

Chiefs DT Chris Jones
It will be interesting to see what happened here, with Mahomes' big deal hitting the Chiefs' books hard in a couple years. For what it's worth, Jones appears dug in on getting top of market bucks....

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast