The NFL’s deadline for placing franchise and transition tags passed Tuesday afternoon with few surprises. Nine teams locked up cornerstone players via the franchise tag, and other saw the tag prices as too high and decided to take their chances with the start of the league year a little more than a week away.
With cornerback Trumaine Johnson getting the franchise tag from the Rams, Janoris Jenkins likely hits the open market. Though they don’t play the same position, the Chiefs franchising safety Eric Berry makes it more likely that cornerback Sean Smith hits the market looking for big bucks.
The Super Bowl champion Broncos putting the exclusive franchise tag on outside linebacker Von Miller is no surprise, but it does make it more likely that defensive tackle Malik Jackson will seek big money somewhere else. The Broncos also have quarterback Brock Osweiler and linebacker Danny Trevathan as pending free agents.
Eight of the top nine players on the PFT Hot 100 free agent list got a tag of some sort; Jackson was the lone exception. Smith and Jenkins are young talents at a premium position, and other players who either make their living protecting quarterbacks or trying to bring quarterbacks down are also high on the list of pending free agents.
There’s going to be some serious money spent when the market opens Mar. 9.
With the Eagles having locked up quarterback Sam Bradford, the next big pieces in the free-agent puzzle now that the tags are in involve Osweiler and the Broncos; Browns center Alex Mack, who can opt out of his current contract by Mar. 4 and become a free agent; and whether pending free agent offensive linemen Andre Smith, Mitchell Schwartz and Kelechi Osemele actually hit the market.