• Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: Among the most obviosu franchise tag candidates this offseason is Jackson, who the Ravens are expected to use the exclusive tag on.
• Washington Commanders DI Daron Payne: If Payne somehow avoids the franchise tag, he will arguably be the prize signing of the entire offseason, first and foremost because of his reliability.
• PFF's top free agents: Click here to read about PFF's top 100 free agents, including contract projections for each one.
Estimated Reading Time: 13 mins
The franchise tag window — opening on Feb. 21 and closing on March 7 — is the next important offseason event on the NFL calendar, with teams ensuring they have more time to work toward a multi-year deal with one of their top pending free agents. Any unrestricted free agent not tagged by the deadline will be available to sign with any team on March 13, the first day of the “legal tampering window,” and then the 2023 league year officially begins on March 15. Check out our top 100 free agents and a projected contract for each and every one.
The NFL recently announced the 2023 values for the non-exclusive franchise tenders at each position designation, which are as follows:
|Position||Franchise Tag||Transition Tag|
With Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson a potential franchise tag candidate, it’s also worth mentioning the exclusive franchise tag, which does not allow the player to negotiate and sign an offer sheet with another team. The exclusive tag is more commonly placed on quarterbacks, and the calculation is different from the non-exclusive tag, but it is also subject to change until April 21. As of today, the exclusive tag at quarterback — derived from averaging the five largest salaries at the position — is around $45 million.
Eight players were franchise-tagged during the 2022 offseason, and 30 have been over the past three years combined. Half of those eight went on to sign multi-year extensions before the July 15 deadline, while the other four played this season on the tag — Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, Kansas City Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown Jr. and Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki.
There aren’t as many obvious candidates this offseason, but we’ll identify a player who could be potentially franchise-tagged for each team unless there is clearly no realistic option.
JUMP TO A TEAM:
ARZ | ATL | BLT | BUF | CAR | CIN | CHI | CLE | DEN | DAL | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC | LVR | LAC | LAR | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | PHI | PIT | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WSH
Arizona Cardinals: DI Zach Allen ($19,727,000)
2022 Player WAR/Rank: 0.22 (8th)
Allen had an impressive contract year on an otherwise shaky Cardinals defense, and while the franchise tag is likely too rich here, he’d be the guy if the Cardinals were considering placing it on anyone.
Allen’s 35 quarterback pressures through Week 14 — before he was knocked out for the rest of the year with an injury — ranked top 15 among interior defenders, and his 11 tackles for loss or no gain were tied for fifth.
Atlanta Falcons: OT Kaleb McGary ($18,244,000)
2022 Player WAR/Rank: 0.26 (12th)
Atlanta recently extended left tackle Jake Matthews and will have to earmark major money for their other 2019 first-round pick on the offensive line, right guard Chris Lindstrom, in the near future. What could have been a $13,202,000 fifth-year option in 2023 for McGary now would have to be $5 million more than that, or McGary will test the open market.
McGary’s 91.2 run-blocking grade in 2022 ranked second among tackles, and his 89.1 mark on outside zone runs ranked sixth. His deficiencies as a pass protector, however, could make the Falcons balk at this franchise tag value.
Baltimore Ravens: QB Lamar Jackson ($45.2 million — QB exclusive tender as of Feb. 5)
2022 Player WAR/Rank: 1.41 (19th)
A franchise tag here is a foregone conclusion, and odds are the exclusive tag will be used so other teams cannot talk to Jackson about a long-term deal. If a player on the non-exclusive franchise tag does sign an offer sheet with another club, the incumbent club receives two first-round picks. This is enough of a deterrent to prevent a team from doing so in most instances, but odds are a handful of teams would be more than willing to depart with two firsts for Jackson.
Over the past five seasons, Jackson’s 2.9% turnover-worthy play rate is the 12th lowest of 51 qualifying quarterbacks despite his 9.5-yard average depth of target ranking fifth highest. He’s one of the best runners in the NFL regardless of position, to boot, and a one-man offense that would be quite hard to replace.