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Where things stand for four franchise-tagged stars ahead of the July 15 extension deadline

Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57) lines up during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Eight NFL players received the franchise tag from their respective teams for the 2022 offseason, and half remain without a long-term deal in place. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Cam Robinson and Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku agreed to extensions with their original teams, while the Las Vegas Raiders acquired former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams in a sign-and-trade.

July 15 is the deadline for the four remaining franchise-tagged players to sign long-term extensions. Otherwise, they’ll have to play the 2022 season under the tag.

So, where do contract negotiations stand for 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? We spoke with sources around the league to get a gauge on expectations heading into a crucial weekend.

The tight ends

Njoku's four-year, $54.75 million extension earlier this offseason may be impacting negotiations with Gesicki and Schultz — the latter in particular, according to a few league sources. Here’s how all three stack up over the past two seasons:

Player Receiving grade Run-blocking grade YAC per reception 3rd down/red-zone receptions Contested catch % Drop % Forced missed tackles
David Njoku 69.0 64.0 6.2 10 / 8 47.4% 7.6% 7
Dalton Schultz 72.2 69.3 4.4 27 / 18 58.6% 3.9% 25
Mike Gesicki 77.3 47.1 3.2 26 / 14 52.5% 4.3% 6

Pretty much any way you slice it, Schultz and Gesicki have every right to ask for more than Njoku’s $13,687,500 average per year, which would vault them into the top five for highest-paid tight ends. Schultz is exactly one day younger than Njoku, and Gesicki is just nine months older.

League-wide thoughts on the tight ends:

An AFC scout and NFC coach both characterized Gesicki’s franchise tag for 2022 as something of a “prove-it” deal, in large part due to the perceived poor fit in new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense.

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