Six teams -- the Dallas Cowboys, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers -- already have decided to use the franchise tag, which binds the player to the team for one season.
Here's a look at why the teams made the decision (players ranked in order of tag number):
34 sacks, 48 tackles for loss, five fumble recoveries, one interception
Khalil Mackand theOakland Raidersnot withstanding, pass rushers are hard to find and teams do not let them go. The Cowboys had discussions with agent David Canter but the sides were too far apart to get a deal done by Tuesday. The Cowboys hope the tag is a placeholder to a long-term extension well before the July 15 deadline. Now they have to wonder when they will see Lawrence, who needs left shoulder surgery and is not expected to show up to the offseason program, organized team activities, minicamp or even training camp without a long-term deal.
Since releasing DeMarcus Ware after the 2013 season, the Cowboys have searched for Jerry Jones' "war daddy." Over the past two seasons, Lawrence has 24.5 sacks and 91 quarterback pressures. He affects the quarterback, but the reason why defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves him so much is the effort and relentlessness he plays with against the run. The Cowboys' pass rush is limited without Lawrence.Randy Gregoryfinished second on the defense last season with six sacks, but he is under an indefinite suspension.Taco Charlton, their top pick in 2017, had one sack last season and is coming off shoulder surgery. Lawrence brings a swagger to the Cowboys' defense but more than that he brings production. -- Todd Archer
35 sacks (including 32 since 2016, ninth in NFL), 35 tackles for loss, eight forced fumbles, one interception
It was the logical move all along. The Seahawks want to keep Clark long-term and they've had negotiations with his agent, Erik Burkhardt, to that end. But as Burkhardt made clear in an interview with ESPN.com in October, he considers Clark to be in the top tier of pass-rushers and wasn't interested in taking an early deal unless it paid Clark as such -- especially since Clark could in theory make almost $38 million over the next two seasons if he were to play on consecutive franchise tags. The Seahawks apparently haven't been willing to go near the top of the pass-rusher pay scale to sign Clark to an extension, but there's no way they were going to let him walk with the tag at their disposal.
Regardless of where Clark ranks among the league's best pass-rushers, he's by far the best one the Seahawks have or could realistically acquire. And given that he's entering his age-26 season, his best football may still be ahead of him. No other Seahawk aside from defensive tackleJarran Reedhad more than three sacks last year, so it's not as though they have a surplus of productive edge players. Coach Pete Carroll's repeated praise of how Clark has matured is a sign that the team is comfortable from an off-the-field standpoint with the idea of giving Clark a massive deal. That would provide some relief compared with having the $17.128 million franchise-tag salary count against the cap. And it would free up the tag in 2020 for the Seahawks to use it onRussell Wilsonif they can't sign their quarterback to an extension before then.
29 sacks, 44 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries
Clowney has proven over the past three seasons not only that he can stay healthy, but how important he is to the Texans' defense. In 2018, he and defensive end J.J. Watt were able to stay on the field together for the first time, combining for 25 sacks, tied for the third most by any pair of teammates. In the past, Houston has chosen to extend its own first-round picks before they hit free agency, but the team could not come to a long-term agreement with Clowney before his fifth-year option last offseason. Now, by using the non-exclusive designation on Clowney, the team can continue to work toward that contract before the July 15 deadline.
Clowney is a disruptive presence in the Texans' front seven, especially against the run. He has 27 tackles for loss on designed rushes over the past two seasons, second-most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Clowney is an elite talent, and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said he is "hard to handle" for opposing teams. The Texans move him around the field in Romeo Crennel's defense to take advantage of his athleticism and skill. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Clowney beat his block by 2.5 seconds 35 percent of the time last season including the playoffs, which was the second-highest rate among defensive ends and outside linebackers with at least 300 rushes.-- Sarah Barshop
30.5 sacks (13 in 2018), 137 tackles, nine forced fumbles (seven in 2018)
The Chiefs had no other strong candidate to become their franchise player, so they could negotiate a long-term deal knowing they had this option with Ford if their efforts failed. Don't discount the possibility the sides could still reach a multiyear agreement before the deadline this summer. Ford also seemed to welcome the possibility of becoming the franchise player. He said late last season that it was a "no-brainer'' for him to sign the one-year tender if the Chiefs made him their franchise player.
Ford in 2018 finally lived up to the potential the Chiefs saw in him when they drafted him in the first round in 2014. Ford had 13 sacks, tied for seventh, but also forced seven fumbles, which tied for best in the league. Ford's quick first step proved to be difficult for opposing offensive tackles to deal with. Ford probably will move positions this year, to a 4-3 defensive end from a 3-4 linebacker. But he has the background as a hand-on-the-ground end from his collegiate days at Auburn, so the transition shouldn't be a major one. -- Adam Teicher
179 combined tackles, 14 sacks, three forced fumbles
The Falcons couldn't take the chance of letting Jarrett hit the open market with the problems they already have along the defensive line. Contract talks were tabled during the 2018 season, but Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff constantly insisted that getting an extension done with Jarrett was a top priority. It still appears to be high on the Falcons' list, with the deadline for extending a franchised player being July 15.
Jarrett is a disruptive force with the ideal first-step quickness coach Dan Quinn desires in any defensive lineman. Jarrett had more than 50 pressures last season and topped the Falcons in run stops. His consistent penetration into the backfield caused quarterbacks to step up out of rhythm and running backs to change their paths. Jarrett, although a short defensive lineman, possesses great speed and strength that commands a double team, freeing up others to make plays in one-on-one scenarios. Also, Jarrett plays with a chip from being overlooked during his life, including being just a fifth-round draft pick in 2015. He's capable of having anAaron Donald-type impact for the Falcons on the field. And off the field, Jarrett's charity work speaks for itself. -- Vaughn McClure
87.7 percent career field-goal percentage ranks second in league history among kickers with 100 or more attempts; 82-of-85 field goals over past three seasons for an NFL-best 96.5 percent rate in that time; ranks first in NFL history with a 78.4 percent conversion rate on field goals of 50-plus yards (minimum of 20 attempts)
The 49ers and Gould didn't come all that close to finalizing a long-term deal as rumblings of a possible Gould-Chicago Bears reunion ran rampant. But Gould has been one of the Niners' most consistent performers, and for a team that has made a habit of playing close games -- they've played 12 games decided by three points or fewer over the past two seasons -- having Gould means having peace of mind.
Simply put, good, reliable kickers are hard to find. In coach Kyle Shanahan's first seven years as an offensive playcaller, his kickers made just 76.4 percent of field goal attempts, which was last in the NFL in that time. Given Gould's production, there was no scenario in which the Niners were going to let him walk. It's also why they'd like to sign him beyond this season. -- Nick Wagoner
Texans place franchise tag on Clowney
Dan Graziano breaks down the Texans' decision to place the franchise tag on Jadeveon Clowney.
Schefter: Eagles couldn't find trade partner for Foles
Adam Schefter explains the Eagles' decision to not use the franchise tag on Nick Foles, noting the lack of trade partners on the market for a quarterback.