The NFL’s free agency is approaching, and the annual flurry of franchise tags has finally come. With the salary cap going down following the Covid-19 pandemic, fewer players have been tagged this off-season in comparison to last year. With 10 players receiving the tag this off-season, and four of them receiving their second straight tag, here is a 2021 franchise tag recap.
2021 Franchise Tag Recap
1. Chris Godwin – Wide Receiver – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers used their franchise tag on star receiver Chris Godwin. Coming off of a super bowl victory, the Buccaneers would like to retain as many players from their roster as possible. Especially their Pro Bowl wide receiver who played very well with quarterback Tom Brady. The tag will cost Tampa Bay roughly 16 million for the one season. Tampa Bay will have another season to try and get a long-term extension done with the pro bowl receiver. For Godwin, he’ll have another season on one of the NFL’s top rosters where he can continue to build up his profile for another shot at free agency next off-season.
2. Allen Robinson – Wide Receiver – Chicago Bears
Robinson is a slight surprise here when considering he has made it clear he wants out of Chicago. Similar to Kenny Golladay in Detroit, he voiced his desire to leave during the early off-season and unlike the Lions, Chicago decided to retain their star receiver anyways. Robinson may decide not to sign his tag, but a sign and trade is now an option for Chicago which may be tough for Robinson. It will be interesting to see if Allen and his agent are allowed to try and work out a trade destination for the Pro Bowl receiver or if his destiny is in the hand of Bears GM Ryan Pace.
3. Justin Simmons – Safety – Denver Broncos
This is Denver’s second-time franchise tagging Simmons which means they have one last chance to get him on a long-term extension before he is free to leave for free agency. Denver clearly wants the talented young safety if they are willing to pay him $25 million between last season and this season to play for them. It is known that Simmons and the Broncos are trying to work out a deal and he may avoid having to sign the tag if the deal can get done by July 15. If not, Simmons will sign his second franchise tag and play out the 2021 NFL season on a one-year, $13.7 million deal.
4. Brandon Scherff – Offensive Guard – Washington Football Team
Scherff is the second of four players who are on their second straight franchise tag this off-season. The All-Pro guard is highly regarded by the Washington organization and the hope is they can come to an agreement on an extension. Scherff’s tag this off-season will be more than $18 million which would put his total pay for 2020 and 2021 to $33 million dollars. Not a bad trade-off for signing a few franchise tags. For Washington, they have the cap space to deal with these tags, and with a new quarterback likely coming into the system this off-season it is important to keep top-tier protection on the offensive line.
5. Marcus Maye – Safety – New York Jets
Maye is another player who voiced his desire to leave his current organization but rather found themselves being tagged anyways. Maye struggled to shine on a rough New York Jets defense. He wanted to have a chance to shine on a contending roster, but he will have to remain with the Jets if they are unable to facilitate a trade for the veteran safety. Maye will have a nice payday at the least with his tag costing the Jets around $11 million.
6. Leonard Williams – Defensive End – New York Giants
The third player on this list with their second franchise tag, Williams has been a pleasant addition to the Giants’ defense since he joined them in 2019. Williams had a great 2020 netting 11.5 sacks which is a career-high. The talented defender is entering his seventh NFL season but is still only 26-years-old. Williams is going to get paid, with the tag costing the Giants more than $19 million for the 2021 season. Williams should be able to build on his career year in 2020 and set himself up for a massive extension next off-season.
7. Marcus Williams – Safety – New Orleans Saints
Williams is a surprise to see on this list considering the Saints are extremely above the cap. The Saints are over $50 million above the cap after tagging Williams and they will have to let go of some talented players to get under the cap. While they will be losing other talented players this off-season, they will keep Williams. Williams has been great for the Saints in his four seasons with them. He has averaged over 60 tackles per season and three interceptions. His tag will cost the Saints roughly $10.5 million and will give them time to fix their cap situation for a potential extension in the future for Williams.
8. Taylor Moton – Offensive Tackle – Carolina Panthers
Moton has been an anchor for the Panthers since becoming their starting right tackle in 2018. Moton has started all 48 games for Carolina in the past three seasons and has played at least 99 percent of their offensive snaps in each season. In over 2,000 pass-blocking snaps, Moton has allowed just 10 sacks. This level of consistency on the offensive line is what led Carolina to tag the young offensive tackle. Moton will make more than $13 million on the franchise tag in 2021 and could get an extension done prior to the July 15 deadline.
9. Cam Robinson – Offensive Tackle – Jacksonville Jaguars
Cam Robinson is another surprise tag as his time with Jacksonville hasn’t been perfect. Robinson has struggled at times for the Jaguars and many thought the team would move on from the 25-year-old. Robinson did improve in 2020 starting all 16 games and playing on 90 percent of Jacksonville’s offensive stats. He showed his ability to run block this season but struggled a bit in Pass protection allowing five sacks and north of 30 QB pressures. Robinson would make at least $13.5 million in 2021 on the tag and will have a shot to impress new Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer.
10. Dak Prescott – Quarterback – Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is the last name on this list and has one of the most unique situations. Prescott recently agreed to a four-year, $160 million extension with the Dallas Cowboys, but they still tagged him as a courtesy. The Cowboys tagged Prescott so that he will have been tagged twice and, therefore, it is unlikely he will ever be tagged again.
With Dak’s new contract expiring when he is 32 years old, the quarterback will have another chance at a big extension in his career, and not having the franchise tag look over him will be a relief for the veteran passer. Prescott would have made more than $37 million on the tag but will make even more with his new extension carrying an average of $40 million per year with Prescott making an incredible $75 million in the first year.
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