Dec 4, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) reacts on the sideline in the second quarter after being sacked against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens apply $32.4M non-exclusive tag to Lamar Jackson

Quarterback Lamar Jackson received the non-exclusive franchise tag from the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday.

Jackson and the Ravens failed in a last-ditch effort to reach a long-term contract agreement as the deadline for using the franchise designation arrived at 4 p.m. ET.

The non-exclusive tag brings multiple variables into play for either side.

If Jackson, 26, signs the tender, he’s guaranteed $32.41 million for the 2023 season, unless the two sides agree to a new contract by July 17.

Until Jackson signs, he’s open to meet with other teams and agree to terms on a long-term deal with any other team. The Ravens, by using the franchise tag, have refusal rights and can match any offer sheet Jackson receives. If the Ravens choose not to match a contract offer, they would command two first-round picks in exchange for Jackson.

Jackson is treated as a free agent meaning he can talk to teams with 2023 first-round picks starting March 15 at 4 p.m. ET.

General manager Eric DeCosta had another alternative available: the exclusive franchise tag.

The exclusive tag would cost the Ravens more — $45 million in 2023 — but risk far less. Under terms of the exclusive tag, only the Ravens can negotiate with Jackson.

DeCosta and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine that Baltimore remains confident Jackson will be with the team long-term.

DeCosta said the Ravens are preparing for every possible outcome with Jackson and their other free agents.

“We’ve got four, five, or six different plans based on what happens over the next 10 days,” he said.

Harbaugh rated the chances of Jackson coming back at “200 percent” in January but didn’t sound as certain last week in Indianapolis.

“He’s my quarterback. He’s my guy. I love him,” Harbaugh said. “As a coach I’m looking forward to seeing it get done. But it’s not easy. It’s never easy. It’s the business part of it. But I’m hopeful. Really hopeful and excited. Fervently hopeful.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) stands on the field during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens EVP: Lamar Jackson talks to go until deadline, will tag if needed

Ozzie Newsome, the Baltimore Ravens’ executive vice president of player personnel, said the team will negotiate with star quarterback Lamar Jackson up until Tuesday’s franchise tag deadline.

If those talks don’t produce a long-term extension, Jackson will be tagged.

“Today and up until about 3:30 tomorrow, a lot of energy is going to be utilized in trying to get the deal done,” Newsome said on “The Bernie Kosar Show” on Monday. “And if not, we will put the franchise tag on him.”

After extensive negotiations with the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player, the Ravens were expected to use the franchise tag on Jackson for the 2023 season. At issue is whether Baltimore would use the exclusive or the non-exclusive tag.

The exclusive franchise tag value at quarterback for 2023 is projected at $45 million, and prevents a player from talking contract with any other team.

The non-exclusive tag, with a $32.4 million salary this season, opens the door to offers from teams while maintaining refusal rights for the Ravens. If Baltimore doesn’t match an offer sheet, Jackson could be traded for two first-round picks.

Jackson, 26, reportedly turned down a five-year deal last September. It would have stretched through the 2027 season, with $133 million guaranteed at signing, per multiple reports.

Jackson has 12,209 yards with 101 passing touchdowns, and 4,437 rushing yards with 24 TDs on the ground in 70 career games since being selected in the first round of the 2018 draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) reacts with quarterback Dak Prescott (4) after a touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first half during the wild card game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys use franchise tag to retain RB Tony Pollard

Running back Tony Pollard received the franchise tag from the Dallas Cowboys, preventing him from fleeing in free agency with a $10.09 million guarantee for the 2023 season.

The deadline to apply the franchise tag is Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Pollard’s 2022 breakout season ended with a bad leg break, but he’s expected to be full strength in time for the mandatory portion of offseason workouts.

Players given the non-exclusive franchise tag can still meet with interested teams. If Pollard receives a contract offer from another team, the Cowboys can choose to match the offer to retain Pollard, or decline to match and accept two first-round picks as trade compensation.

Pollard, 25, ran for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns on 193 carries — all career highs — while splitting time in the Dallas backfield with Ezekiel Elliott in 2022.

Pollard, a fourth-round draft pick in 2019, suffered a high ankle sprain and a fractured fibula late in the first half of the Cowboys’ divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Ten days later he underwent “tightrope” surgery to provide stability to the injured ankle.

His fibula should return to full strength by late March, Pollard said.

A Pro Bowler for the first time, Pollard was replaced by Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook for the Pro Bowl Games.

Dallas has regularly relied on the franchise tag to keep key players, including tight end Dalton Schultz (2022), quarterback Dak Prescott (2020), and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (2018, 2019). Only Lawrence in 2019 reached a long-term deal with the Cowboys before the July deadline to remove the one-year franchise tender and replace it with a multi-year agreement.

The Cowboys addressed using the tag to keep Pollard on the roster last week at the NFL Scouting Combine. Applying the tag Monday allows the Cowboys to negotiate restructuring with Elliott, 28, who could ultimately be released to clear the starting role for Pollard.

Elliott and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expressed interest in having both players on the roster for the 2023 season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 11, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) celebrates with Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz (86) after scoring a touchdown during the first half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys COO plans to use the franchise tag

Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones offered a free agency forecast, vowing to use the franchise tag before the March 7 deadline.

The most popular presumption is the Cowboys using the franchise tag to retain running back Tony Pollard, given the one-year salary for tagged running backs would be just over $10 million in 2023.

“We’re not afraid of the tag. End of the day we’ll probably use it again this year,” Jones said at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Key free agents on offense — Pollard and tight end Dalton Schultz — are the likely targets for the tag Jones would consider. Schultz was tagged in 2022, but the Cowboys received strong production from his backups last season. Tagging Schultz at 120 percent of the franchise figure — required when using the franchise marker in consecutive years — would guarantee him $13.1 million in 2023.

The Cowboys have a few variables to consider with Pollard. Ezekiel Elliott is 27 and has a cap charge of $16.7 million, including $10.9 million in base salary. He shared the load at the position with Pollard last season, and Elliott ran for a career-low 876 yards. But Pollard is entering free agency, which officially begins March 15, two months removed from a broken leg sustained in a playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Jones said adjusting Elliott’s contract is part of the team’s discussions before the tag deadline next Tuesday.

“He’s making a lot of money, and he knows that,” Jones said of Elliott.

The Cowboys also want to keep 32-year-old offensive tackle Tyron Smith, Jones said, and called the challenge of retaining a surplus of talent a good problem to have. For that reason, Dallas knows it will need to use every resource available.

“More than likely we’ll use the franchise tag. Not necessarily on Tony, but (likely) we’ll use it,” Jones said.

–Field Level Media

Dec 4, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Washington Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne (94) reacts to a defensive play against the New York Giants during overtime at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Commanders use franchise tag on DT Daron Payne

Defensive tackle Daron Payne will not reach free agency next month after the Washington Commanders used the franchise tag to retain him on Tuesday.

The Commanders made the move official after releasing a brief statement: “We have applied the franchise tag to DT Daron Payne.”

Payne is guaranteed a 2023 salary of $18.937 million if the two sides can’t reach a long-term contract agreement by July 15.

The 25-year-old Alabama product was a wrecking ball in his contract year and was voted to the Pro Bowl last season with 64 tackles (18 for loss), 20 QB hits, 11.5 sacks, five passes defensed and a fumble recovery.

Selected with the No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Payne has played in 81 games (75 starts), compiling 291 tackles (40 for loss), 55 quarterback hits, 26 sacks, 14 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries and a safety.

The Commanders’ defense was third in the NFL in yards allowed last season.

Washington was active Monday, releasing quarterback Carson Wentz and defensive back Bobby McCain to save more than $26 million toward the 2023 salary cap.

–Field Level Media

Nov 17, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (right) exchanges jerseys with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (left) after the game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Tag time: Franchise, transition window opens Tuesday

Lamar Jackson and a host of potential unrestricted free agents could be shown the trap door that is the NFL franchise tag when the window for NFL teams to apply franchise and transition markets opens Tuesday.

The tag window closes on March 7. Free agency begins March 15.

Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens had contract talks on at least three separate occasions since June 2022. Those conversations weren’t fruitful, and the two sides are reportedly far apart as the self-represented Jackson seeks fully guaranteed salaries on a long-term deal.

Baltimore’s conundrum was created in part by the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract Deshaun Watson with the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens and others can use the franchise tag to retain refusal rights in free agency, or a cheaper insurance policy with fewer guarantees, the transition tag.

There are two franchise tag types available to general managers: the non-exclusive franchise tag is most typical and assures a player a one-year salary tabulated by finding the average of the top five salaries at a position over the last five seasons. Because the tag is non-exclusive, other teams can negotiate with the tagged player, but his current team can choose to match any contract offer or choose to receive two first-round draft picks in return.

The exclusive franchise tag has only been applied once in the past seven seasons. The Dallas Cowboys used it in negotiations with Dak Prescott, prohibiting him from talking to other teams.

But the exclusive tag comes with a price. For example, the Ravens would be indebted to Jackson for a 2023 salary hold of $44.2 million on the exclusive tag. Baltimore is over the projected 2023 salary cap as of Monday, and clearing the cap space to use the exclusive tag could create more headaches with deferred salaries in future years.

A less-beneficial option for GMs, the transition tag gives a player’s current team refusal rights to match any contract offer. However, if the team opts not to match an offer from another team, no compensation is owed.

The 2023 franchise and transition tag values as compiled by the NFL Players Association:

Pos. Franchise tag value Transition tag value
QB $32,416,000 $29,504,000
LB $20,926,000 $17,478,000
WR $19,743,000 $17,991,000
DE $19,727,000 $17,452,000
DT $18,937,000 $16,068,000
OL $18,244,000 $16,660,000
CB $18,140,000 $15,791,000
S $14,460,000 $11,867,000
TE $11,345,000 $9,716,000
RB $10,091,000 $8,429,000
K/P $5,393,000 $4,869,000

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (30) against the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Contract deadline passes, Bengals S Jessie Bates could be holdout

Safety Jessie Bates and the Cincinnati Bengals did not reach an agreement on a long-term deal before the Friday deadline facing players retained on the franchise tag.

What that means for Bates and the Bengals stands as a cliffhanger.

USA Today reported Friday that Bates has no intention of reporting to training camp or playing under the terms of the franchise tag, which was applied in February by the Bengals to keep him from unrestricted free agency. The one-year tender for safeties under the rules of the franchise tag brings a 2022 salary of around $13 million.

Bates said during Super Bowl media interviews that injuries and the lack of guarantees or bonuses in the franchise agreements make them a high-risk proposition.

NFL Network reported on Friday that Bates’ total guarantee in the final contract offer he received from the Bengals was $4 million higher than the guarantee he stands to receive on the franchise tag.

Bates has started all but two games for the Bengals since entering the league as a 2018 second-round draft pick. A second-team All-Pro in 2020, Bates has compiled 408 tackles, 35 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over four seasons.

Bates added two interceptions in the 2021 playoffs, including one on Matthew Stafford during Super Bowl LVI, along with six pass breakups.

In an interview with NFL Network in February, Bates said he hoped not to be tagged.

“Some of the top guys got hurt under a franchise tag. It’s tough,” Bates said. “You only get one shot at this. You just gotta play your cards right.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Orlando Brown (57) against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Chiefs, Orlando Brown fail to reach long-term deal

The Kansas City Chiefs and left tackle Orlando Brown failed to reach a long-term agreement ahead of Friday’s NFL deadline for franchise-tagged players, multiple outlets reported.

Brown, 26, still has not signed his franchise tag tender, which would see him earn approximately $16.5 million for the 2022 season.

It is unclear whether the three-time Pro Bowl selection will report to training camp on July 26. Because Brown is unsigned, he would not be subject to any fines.

Acquired from the Baltimore Ravens for a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, Brown started 16 games and made his third consecutive Pro Bowl last season.

Brown has started 58 of his 64 games since the Ravens picked him in the third round out of Oklahoma in the 2018 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jun 2, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki (88) works out during minicamp at Baptist Health Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki likely to play on franchise tag

Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki likely will play the upcoming season on the franchise tag, NFL Network reported.

The two sides have until Friday to reach a long-term deal or he will play the 2022 season on a franchise tender, earning a salary of $10.931 million.

The odds of hammering out a new contract appear low, per the report, meaning Gesicki will become a free agent next offseason.

Gesicki, 26, recorded career-high totals in catches (73) and receiving yards (780) to go along with two touchdowns in 17 games last season.

He has 199 catches for 2,255 yards and 13 scores in 64 career games since being selected by the Dolphins in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 22, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry (58) against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second half during a AFC Divisional playoff football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Titans don’t tag pass rusher Harold Landry

A Pro Bowl pass rusher reportedly is one step closer to hitting the open market.

The Tennessee Titans opted against using the franchise tag on outside linebacker Harold Landry, multiple outlets reported Tuesday.

The Titans have exclusive negotiating rights until Monday to work out a long-term deal. After that, Landry is free to negotiate with other teams. Landry’s rookie contract expires March 16.

The Titans are over the salary cap by $7.8 million, meaning the franchise tender of $18.7 million for linebackers would have counted against their 2022 cap in full.

Landry, 25, had 75 tackles, 12 sacks, and a forced fumble for the Titans in 2021, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Landry has 31 sacks in 64 career games (52 starts) for the Titans, who selected him in the second round of the 2018 draft.

Landry has led the Titans in sacks each of the past three seasons.

–Field Level Media