Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline to use franchise and transition tags has now passed and overall there weren’t any surprises when it comes to the ten teams who decided to use the league’s unrestricted free agent mechanisms.
As expected, linebacker Von Miller received the exclusive version of the franchise tag from the Denver Broncos while defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, kicker Justin Tucker, tackle Cordy Glenn, cornerback Josh Norman, cornerback Trumaine Johnson, safety Eric Berry, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and quarterback Kirk Cousins all received the non-exclusive franchise tag from their respective teams. Miami Dolphins defensive end Olivier Vernon was the lone recipient of the transition tag this year.
When a team extends a required tender to a non-exclusive franchise player, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club. The signing period for franchise players begins at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on March 9 and ends on the Tuesday following the 10th week of the season (November 15).
The Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs had difficult decisions this year as they both had two players that seemed worth of receiving the franchise tag. Their Tuesday decisions will now result in cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Sean Smith both being allowed to hit free agency when the new league year arrives one week from today.
Jenkins and Smith will both likely sign very lucrative deals during the first few hours of free agency and at that point, Prince Amukamara, Casey Hayward, Pacman Jones and Patrick Robinson will likely be the top available unrestricted free agent cornerbacks.
As far as safeties go, arguments can be made that Eric Weddle is now the top free agent at his position with George Iloka, Reggie Nelson and Tashaun Gipson not too far behind.
In short, it will be surprising if the Pittsburgh Steelers land any of the aforementioned defensive backs during free agency either because of age, or market value. However, if forced to name one player at each position who seemingly would have the best shot of landing it Pittsburgh, it would probably be Robinson and Weddle. With that said, don’t get your hopes up just because I named them. Just consider it me indulging a few a you.
The Steelers generally prefers to re-sign their own unrestricted free agents and I fully expect a few of those deals will get done over the course of the next week.
2016 Tag Recap
Denver Broncos LB Von Miller – exclusive franchise tag – (TBD)
Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($19.953 million)
New York Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($15.701 million)
Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($14.599 million)
Carolina Panthers CB Josh Norman – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($13.952 million)
Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($13.952 million)
Buffalo Bills T Cordy Glenn – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($13.706 million)
Miami Dolphins DE Olivier Vernon – transition tag – ($12.734 million)
Kansas City Chiefs S Eric Berry – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($10.806 million)
Baltimore Ravens K Justin Tucker – non-exclusive franchise tag – ($4.572 million)