• The franchise tag deadline has come and gone. What were the surprises and what's next?
By Conor Orr
March 05, 2019

Evidence of the NFL’s stranglehold on the news cycle: Even some of its most boring administrative deadlines manage to dominate the day. Case-in-point, 4 p.m. Tuesday was the last minute anyone could use the franchise tag on qualifying players under expiring contracts. And here we are.

Here are the answers to all your questions: 

Who was tagged? 

In total, six players were hit with the franchise tag. The transition tag, believed to be ammunition at the Steelers’ disposal to keep Le’Veon Bell was not used at all. 

Here are the six players tagged: 
Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (second straight year)
Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney 
Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark
Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford
49ers kicker Robbie Gould 
Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett 

Any deadline day surprises?

The Giants opted not to use the franchise tag on safety Landon Collins, causing the requisite outrage from fans and reporters. Collins has made the Pro Bowl each of the last three seasons and has certainly gotten better over each of his four years in the NFL. Despite some minor injury concerns, Collins handled both coverage and run stopping responsibilities well and can anchor a defense from two positions.

Spurning Collins has folded into the narrative on Giants general manager Dave Gettleman that developed back in Carolina when he rescinded the franchise tag from Josh Norman and let him go to Washington.

The Ravens are letting C.J. Mosley test the waters, which is risky, although the tag price for a linebacker is steep and may not represent the going rate for an inside player like Mosley.

The Patriots could have used the tag on Stephen Gostkowski or Trey Flowers, but it appears both will be able to field offers from other clubs. The only surprising aspect, really, is that two long-time contributors to the most recent Belichick era may be gone. 

Donovan Smith of the Buccaneers was a prime tag candidate, but signed a three-year deal just under the gun.

What’s next? 

This could end up as one of the most unsettled franchise tag classes in recent memory. Jadeveon Clowney will be taking his time signing his tender. Things appear to be growing contentious between the Cowboys and DeMarcus Lawrence. The Chiefs could deal Dee Ford in order to open up their defense for new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. They also may have a squabble about whether Ford is a linebacker or a defensive end. If nothing else, it seems to magnify how differently teams typically handle these situations. Coming off difficult talks on both the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones deals, Atlanta seems poised to keep Grady Jarrett long term. At least, for the moment, talks have taken on a cordial tone. 

There does not seem to be a Le’Veon Bell in this class, willing to sit out an entire season, though if Bell fares well in free agency it could be interesting to see how that impacts a player’s willingness to sign their tags or force a team’s hand. It would seem none have that kind of leverage in this year’s class, though Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City are in a mad dash for a Super Bowl while their current roster is still affordable.

• Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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