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  • Plenty of defensive stars will be angling for long-term contracts after this season, but it's likely that a handful will be hit with the franchise tag.
By Jonathan Jones
November 15, 2018

With Le’Veon Bell officially sitting out this season—and unofficially not playing under the franchise tag in 2019—we began thinking about which players will be tagged during 2019’s free-agency period.

There have been more defensive players than offensive tagged in recent years (2015 being the only recent exception in the past five years). The usual suspects on offense—Bell and Kirk Cousins—are now off the tag, and as I survey the league, it’s tough to find any quarterback close to being tagged next year. The offensive player with the best chance to be tagged, in my opinion, would be Golden Tate, and it’s difficult to see Philadelphia devoting more than $16 million in cap space to Tate with their 2019 salary cap situation as it currently stands.

Normally the tag is applied when two sides can’t come to an agreement on a long-term extension. And a little less than half the time, an extension can be reached before the player ever plays a down on the tag. That’s to say I’m not projecting these players to play on a one-year, guaranteed deal next year, but simply that a team could tag them next spring.

Houston EDGE Jadeveon Clowney: The former No. 1 draft pick has played this season on his fifth-year option and will surely be locked up by the Texans this offseason. He’s dealt with various injuries throughout his career and has played in all 16 games just one season, so the Texans should want to protect themselves long-term with his history, which could make negotiations on a mega-millions extension difficult. The tag and Clowney seemed destined for each other.

Atlanta DT Grady Jarrett: There was no reason for Jarrett to fall to the fifth round of the draft like he did in 2015. He’s been playing like one of the league’s best interior pass rushers since Super Bowl LI and now he needs to be paid like one. The Falcons simply didn’t have the cap space this past offseason to sign him after taking care of Ricardo Allen, Jake Matthews, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. You can’t imagine Thomas Dimitroff wants one of his best draft picks to walk out the door after four years.

Rams DT Ndamukong Suh OR Rams S LaMarcus Joyner: Seems Los Angeles has a decision to make here. It’s difficult to believe Los Angeles will have enough money to sign one to a long-term deal and still tag the other. Joyner is playing on the franchise tag this year and could be tagged again (as we all know). The Rams did it with Trumaine Johnson, so why not Joyner? But if Suh helps Aaron Donald to a second-straight Defensive Player of the Year award, it’d be very hard to see him walk in free agency.

Kansas City OLB Dee Ford: This has Demarcus Lawrence 2018 written all over it. Ford is having his second great year in the past three seasons and would fetch nearly $20 million a year on the open market. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes still on his rookie deal, so they’ll have the cap space for their elite pass rusher. Lawrence seems to be an obvious choice for the tag and then the two sides can work on the longer-term deal by July.

Washington S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: When Washington traded for Clinton-Dix, it seemed clear he was much more than a half-season rental to get Washington deep into the playoffs. Clinton-Dix and D.J. Swearinger make up one of the best safety duos in the league. The hope here would be striking an extension with the former first-rounder who’s finishing out his fifth-year option, but if not, the tag will likely be used by a team who has recent experience with it.

Other possible tagged players: New England DE Trey Flowers, Philadephia DE Brandon Graham, Seattle DE Frank Clark and New York Giants S Landon Collins.

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PRESS COVERAGE

1. Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul has had this week’s game against the Giants marked on his calendar for some time.

2. Le’Veon Bell didn’t return a goodbye text to Ben Roethlisberger this week.

2. Chargers DE Joey Bosa has missed the entire season due to a foot injury. He returned to the practice field in a limited capacity Wednesday.

4. Eagles coach Doug Pederson is looking forward to seeing all his Louisiana friends this week when his Eagles face the Saints.

5. Love this “We Should’ve Known” segment from Stadium’s Michael Felder on how we should have anticipated Denver’s Bradley Chubb taking off so early based off his college career.


THE KICKER

About every year the discussion of pay for entry-level jobs in journalism comes up. People on both sides seem to be unable to meet anywhere in the middle. Our Jenny Vrentas had a great thread Wednesday on Twitter that achieved that middle.

Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at talkback@themmqb.com

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