INDIANAPOLIS – Franchise labels are about to start flying everywhere. Chris Jones is just the start.
Owners know they are on the verge of being richer in cash than ever, on the verge of a 10-year labor agreement and about to target television networks and streaming services with new deals broadcast to come. And, knowing that the league has barely begun to plunge its collective toes into the deep and abundant sources of revenue that await once the NFL wholeheartedly embraces the economic generosity of the game.
The cap will continue to increase significantly, and now is not the time to worry about a few million more cap space when it comes to teams trying to find their best talent for the 2020 season. And, with teams capable of applying multiple tags at least for now – while league and union lawyers continue to chop the fine print of this new collective agreement before the full player vote (more details below) – all the more so because the franchise and transition labels are all the rage.
While the tag application period is officially underway, here is the last one I hear about what is to come for the best potential free agents and their current employers:
CHARGERS: HUNTER HENRY – He will be labeled. Every team I’ve talked to that has a tight need or interest in a tight end upgrade thinks there’s no chance the Chargers will let him go. He is a focal point and a building block for anyone the next starting QB for this franchise and from all I understand he will absolutely receive the franchise label.
BUCCANEERS: SHAQ BARRETT / JAMEIS WINSTON – The Bucs will apply the label to Barrett after his year of monster escape. there is no doubt. And they continue to weigh the merits of Winston’s labeling as well. The consensus among the leaders I spoke to is that if the Bucs can’t have a strong impression that Philip Rivers is going to land there, then Winston also gets a label (assuming they can always use two labels). I still don’t see a clear and obvious path for Tampa to go from Winston. Either way, the Bucs will use one or two tags.
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TITANS: RYAN TANNEHILL / DERRICK HENRY / JACK CONKLIN – It’s another team ready to use two tags, sources said. And their main goal would be to get a quarter-year extension with the quarterback, sources said, which would leave labels for the ball carrier and right tackle. Of course, this can turn out to be madness, as Tannehill has just had an exceptional season and if a new CBA is ratified, say, next week, that second label could quickly disappear. I would say this, keeping Conklin is a priority for this franchise.
COWBOYS: DAK PRESCOTT / AMARI COOPER – Dallas is ready to use two tags. Prescott gets an absolutely positive label, and at this point, he would have no motivation to even want to engage with the Cowboys’ brass until he sees what the future holds for guys like Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. No reason to speak even until mid-July, when the deadline for extended franchise players is approaching. Cooper also gets the label, assuming they can use two.
Ravens: MAT JUDON – I’ve been reporting for months that the franchise is ready to label Judon to keep him. This remains the case. And for all the work the parties are doing to try to reach a long-term agreement to avoid this scenario, I wouldn’t hold my breath until the tag period expired. Judon has every reason to be very patient and to see what guys like Jadeveon Clowney get, assuming he hits the free market like many of the executives I’ve talked to anticipate.
STEELERS: BUD DUPREE – Pittsburgh is in crisis and has work to do. But I have the impression that they will do everything reasonable to facilitate the possibility of putting a label on Dupree after his huge year. It’s not as unrealistic as some would have you believe, and if I were a betting man, I would put money on Dupree getting labeled at the end.
JAGUARS: YANNICK NGAKOUE – Getting labeled will not be very happy. This could become quite controversial between these two parties. It will not be easy to reach a long-term agreement.
BRONCOS: JUSTIN SIMMONS – The team has already officially declared that it is not going anywhere. Security is labeled unless they enter into a long-term agreement before that date.
BENGALS: A.J. VERT – It is very likely that he will be tagged. In fact, I would be shocked at this point if it doesn’t get labeled. They will keep weapons for Joe Burrow and their offensive-minded young head coach even after the 2019 debacle for the player and the team.
REDSKINS: BRANDON SCHERFF – It is more likely than not that the custodian will receive the tag. This team doesn’t really have a lot of guys screaming for extensions or other places they need to spend their money on their current roster.
VIKINGS: ANTHONY HARRIS – They have the worst cap tightening in football and a lot of needs. I don’t see them being able to use the tag here and having enough flexibility to go under the ceiling and keep the team a bit in touch.
SEAHAWKS: JADEVEON CLOWNEY – Never dismiss Seattle general manager John Schneider to get creative and find a way to do something that others don’t believe is possible, but this team has lots of free agents, and lots of between them are centered at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. A second label for Clowney has a crazy price and the best chance to keep it may be to bring him back on a long-term deal once he has the chance to see what else is on the open market .
49ERS: ARIK ARMSTEAD – They really want to find a way to make it work and keep what is the best defensive line in football completely intact… I just continue to see it as quite difficult to achieve. The feeling among the other teams I talk to is that they are planning Armstead to hit the market.
PACKERS: BRYAN BULAGA – With Aaron Rodgers already missing a bit in his supporting cast on the offensive side of the ball, and with many of his most trusted teammates having been dismissed in recent years, I would likely score this stud tackle if I led the Packers. But the feeling that I get here to the combine is that it’s not very likely.
There are a lot of names here, people. Even if there is only one tag that the teams actually end up using when the year of the league officially opens, I expect there will be double-digit teams for the ‘apply. And if they can label two players, there could be almost 15 players on the label, which would considerably reduce what was already a class of free agent already quite pedestrian, quarterbacks aside.
New CBA: Latest NFL and NFLPA Events
As I noted, there is still a lot of daily work between the NFL and NFLPA with their lawyers who draft the CBA document and chop up certain rules and regulations depending on if and when it will be ratified by vote players.
From what I hear and the amount of work that remains to be done, it is likely that it will be until Wednesday at the earliest that the 1,900 players can start participating in the process. The hope is that the two sides have everything ready by Tuesday, then players will likely receive a secure link via an SMS that they would use to vote electronically.
There will be a limited time limit in terms of the time players need to vote, although this is still under development. It would be expected to be measured in days, or certainly not more than a week, but, again, this has not yet been determined. I continue to expect the CBA to be ratified by the players. The average NFL player sees a lot of real-time benefits, especially in the short term.
More insider notes
- Uncertainty about when and how many will actually cool the market in Indianapolis. The teams are not yet certain about their own salaries and are not optimistic about their budget to bring outside. Talent. There are not as many figures that we talk about in this combine, the executives and the agents tell me …
- Saying all this, I heard that Kenyan Drake is looking for an agreement in the range of $ 8-10 million a year. It would be something given the way things went for him in Miami and the global suppression on the ball carrier market, even if he certainly flashed well with the Cardinals…
- Upon learning that the Browns pay new CEO Andrew Berry about $ 3.3 million a year, which excites many of his league peers. That’s big enough for a first general manager, and given that the Browns’ ownership continues to pay former coaches and general managers (like recently fired general manager John Dorsey) at the same time, it’s a commitment which caught people’s attention.