CINCINNATI — The Bengals are expected to franchise tag Carl Lawson if they can't agree to a long-term deal by March 9, according to our own James Rapien.
Cincinnati wants to keep the 25-year-old in 2021 and beyond. If they do agree to a long-term deal with Lawson, then William Jackson III would become an obvious candidate for the franchise tag.
Losing Lawson or Jackson in free agency would create another void on the Bengals' roster. They already need to add multiple veteran offensive linemen that can keep Joe Burrow upright.
Even if they keep Lawson, they could use help on the defensive line. Retaining both guys makes sense, even if they have to franchise tag one of them.
The tag is based on the 2021 salary cap, which has yet to be determined. We know it will be at least $180 million, but could be as high as $185 million.
Some teams are expected it to be $183 million according to Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer.
Here's a breakdown of how much it would cost to franchise each position if the salary cap was at $180, $183 or $185 million, respectively.
There's a chance the salary cap could be higher than $185 million, but it won't drop lower than $180 million.
Cincinnati will anywhere from $40-$45 million in cap space, assuming the salary cap is in the $180-$185 million range.
The Bengals have to pay Lawson anywhere from $15.85 million to $16.29 million, depending on the salary cap if the decide to place the franchise tag on him. Jackson would make somewhere between $14.85 and $15.27 million on the tag.
Keeping both guys should be their priority, but they plan on tagging Lawson if they can't sign him to a long-term deal. That would prevent him from becoming a free agent until next offseason and give them more time to negotiate a new contract.
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