NFL franchise tag tracker: Who's getting paid for 2020, what's next

ByNFL Nation ESPN logo
Monday, March 16, 2020

The deadline has passed for NFL teams to use the franchise tag and 10 players find themselves tagged.

The franchise tag binds the player to the team for one season. Franchise tag figures are based upon the top five salaries at each position.

Here's a look at the players listed alphabetically, why the teams made the decision and the tag figures:

Shaquil Barrett, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Franchise tag salary: $15.828 million

Season: Six

Career highlights: An undrafted free agent out of Colorado State, Barrett spent his first five years in the league in a rotational role with the Denver Broncos before registering a league-leading 19.5 sacks in 2019 with the Bucs -- his first year as a full-time starter.

Why he was tagged: Barrett has said that he wants to remain in Tampa, and a long-term deal is the end goal for both sides. This buys the Bucs time to be able to do that while seeing whether he can replicate the magic of last season, when he went from a one-year prove-it deal and fighting for a job in the fourth preseason game to making the Pro Bowl.

What he brings: The Bucs tallied 47.0 sacks last year as a team -- over 41% of those came from Barrett, who became just the second Bucs player to reach double-digit sacks since Simeon Rice in 2005. (The first was Jason Pierre-Paul, who recorded 12.5 in 2018.) Barrett brings a number of pass-rush moves as well as countermoves in the event he doesn't win initially. -- Jenna Laine

Bud Dupree, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Franchise tag salary: $15.828 million

Seasons: Five

Career highlights: A 2015 first-round pick, Dupree finally showed why the Steelers thought so highly of him when he came out of Kentucky. Healthy all season, Dupree had a breakout year with 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2019.

Why he was tagged: Coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert said bringing Dupree back was a priority, and Dupree expressed his desire to remain in Pittsburgh at the end of the season. Dupree would have commanded a big price tag on the open market, and the only way to keep him in-house with a tight cap situation was by tagging him.

What he brings: If he stays healthy, expect Dupree to continue building on last year's career season -- especially as long as he's playing off T.J. Watt. The pair combined for 26 sacks a season ago, almost half of the Steelers' 54 sacks. With the defense expected to stay mostly intact this season, retaining Dupree helps the Steelers make the most of a narrow championship window in the waning years of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's career. -- Brooke Pryor

A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Franchise tag salary: $17.865 million


Career highlights: Green is a seven-time Pro Bowler who has been one of the NFL's most productive receivers since he has been in the league.

Why he was tagged: Green didn't play a single snap in 2019 after he tore multiple ankle ligaments during the first practice of the preseason. It added to an injury history that has increased over the years. He has missed 23 of the past 24 games. The two sides were unable to agree on a long-term deal before the tag was placed.

What he brings: When healthy, Green is one of the league's most dynamic receivers. And if the Bengals take Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick as expected, Green could be a massive asset to aid the quarterback's development during his rookie season. The Bengals also need another dynamic receiver to open up the passing attack. -- Ben Baby

Anthony Harris, S, Minnesota Vikings

Franchise tag salary: $11.441 million

Seasons: Five

Career highlights: From UDFA to starter, Harris climbed the ranks of the Vikings' defense over five seasons and became a pivotal part of the secondary. When Andrew Sendejo sustained an injury in 2018 six weeks into the season, Harris took over starting duties and never gave them back. A single-game career-high two interceptions in Chicago followed shortly thereafter before he led the league in interceptions with six last season.

Why he was tagged: The Vikings aren't a team that uses the franchise tag that often, with Harris, 28, being just the third player in franchise history to receive the designation. The Vikings made a late decision to tag Harris after they were able to free up $10 million in cap space upon working out an extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Last month at the NFL combine, coach Mike Zimmer made it appear that safety wasn't one of the priority positions on defense, so either the flexibility to spend or Minnesota deciding to gain some leverage for down the road brought Harris back to the Vikings on a one-year deal. Tagging Harris buys the Vikings time to work out a long-term deal or a trade. Between Harris and Harrison Smith, the Vikings have one of the best safety duos in the NFL. Given depth concerns at cornerback, the safety group serves as a security blanket of sorts on the backend of the defense.

What he brings: Harris totaled six interceptions in 2019 and has continued to progress starting opposite Smith. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Harris had a 48% ball-hawk rate last season -- the percentage of targets where the nearest defender made a play on the football -- which was the highest of any player with at least 20 targets as a nearest defender. Harris brings one of two things: stability for a defense undergoing major transition this offseason or draft capital for a Vikings team that has a number of areas to address in April. If he ends up being tagged and traded, the team that gets Harris receives an instant boost in its secondary. -- Courtney Cronin

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

Franchise tag salary: $10.278 million

Seasons: Four

Career highlights: Henry led the NFL in rushing with 1,540 yards last season. He became the first player to have 180 or more rushing yards in three consecutive games counting the season-finale win over the Houston Texans followed by playoff wins over the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. Henry's 99-yard touchdown run against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2018 tied Tony Dorsett's NFL record for the longest run from scrimmage.

Why he was tagged: The Titans had to bring Henry back for at least one more season. Counting the playoffs, Henry carried the ball 386 times. Tennessee will lean on Henry to carry the ball plenty in 2020. Can he continue to endure that kind of pounding? The tag also buys the Titans time to work out a long-term deal with Henry.

What he brings: Henry is one of the most unique backs in the NFL. His blend of size and speed makes him more than capable of breaking tackles at the line of scrimmage and outrunning defenses for big gains. The Titans use Henry to impose their will by wearing down defenses and putting games away in the second half. Henry scored 14 of his 18 rushing touchdowns (including the playoffs) in the second half of games. -- Turron Davenport

Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

Franchise tag salary: $10.607 million


Career highlights: Henry produced single-season career highs in 2019 with 55 receptions and 652 receiving yards. In three seasons, he ranks among the top 10 tight ends in Chargers history in receptions (136), yards (1,709) and touchdown catches (17).

Why he was tagged: Chargers general manager Tom Telesco emphasized at the NFL scouting combine the importance of retaining Henry, who has developed into a promising replacement for future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. Unable to come to terms on a long-term deal, using the tag ensures that Henry will not reach free agency when the new league year starts on Wednesday and that the Chargers can continue to negotiate a long-term deal with him.

What he brings: Despite dealing with a series of injuries, including a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season, Henry has proved himself as a valuable playmaker. He is considered a threat as a run-blocker and a pass-catcher. His skill set and ensured future with the Chargers also could help entice a prospective quarterback as the Chargers remain in the hunt for a Philip Rivers replacement. -- Lindsey Thiry

Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs

Franchise tag salary: $16.126 million


Career highlights: Jones led the Chiefs in sacks in each of the past two seasons with 15.5 in 2018 and 9.0 last year.

Why he was tagged: The sides couldn't agree on the terms of a multiyear contract, and Jones is too productive for the Chiefs to let him walk without receiving some compensation. Jones could attract a trade offer from one or more teams that not only want a player of Jones' caliber but are also in better financial position than the Chiefs to meet his salary demands. The Chiefs know how such trades work. They participated in two trades involving franchise players last season, acquiring Frank Clark from the Seahawks and sending Dee Ford to the 49ers.

What he brings: Few players have Jones' ability as an inside pass-rusher. Jones is a remarkably consistent player. In 2018, he set an NFL record with at least one sack in 11 straight games. He had a big game in Super Bowl LIV against the 49ers. He knocked down three of Jimmy Garoppolo's passes and also got pressure on Garoppolo that led to a second-quarter interception. Jones and Clark make for a nice pass-rush combination that the Chiefs would rather not break up. Jones can also be disruptive in the running game. -- Adam Teicher

Matthew Judon, OLB, Baltimore Ravens

Franchise tag salary: $15.828 million


Career highlights: Judon is one of four NFL defenders to record at least 150 tackles, 70 quarterback hits, 40 tackles for loss and 20 sacks since 2017. He reached his first Pro Bowl last season after leading Baltimore with 9.5 sacks and 14 tackles for loss.

Why he was tagged: The Ravens' top priority this offseason is to upgrade their pass rush, and the team couldn't let another edge rusher in his prime walk away in free agency like Za'Darius Smith did a year ago. Baltimore ranked 21st in the NFL last season with 37 sacks, its fewest since 2015. The tag was long expected for Judon, but now the real drama begins. Will the Ravens sign Judon to a long-term deal before the July 15 deadline? Will they tag-and-trade him (perhaps a swap for Jacksonville's Yannick Ngakoue)? Or will the Ravens just use this as a one-year rental? Baltimore has a history of striking big-money extensions with franchise players (the last five tagged landed long-term deals), but there's no such certainty with Judon.

What he brings: Judon was the only consistent pass-rusher on the Ravens last season. His 33 quarterback hits were 23 more than any other Ravens player in 2019. He is also considered a more all-around player than the likes of Ngakoue, just not as explosive. There are questions whether Judon is an elite pass-rusher. He's never recorded double-digit sacks in a single season. He didn't make a sack last season when part of a four-man rush (all came on blitzes). But there's no denying Judon's production. He was one of three defenders last season to total 50 tackles, 9 sacks, 30 quarterback hits and 4 forced fumbles. The others were Shaquil Barrett and T.J. Watt. -- Jamison Hensley

Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Franchise tag salary: $17.788 million


Career highlights: Ngakoue is already second in franchise history with 37.5 sacks, and his 14 forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2016 are more than every player exceptKhalil Mack (17), Chandler Jones (17) and T.J. Watt (15) during that span.

Why he was tagged: The Jaguars were unable to work out a long-term deal last season, which led to Ngakoue skipping most of the voluntary workouts and OTAs and mandatory minicamp and holding out for 11 days at the start of training camp. He got off to a slow start because of a hamstring injury but finished with eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 2019. The thought was that the departure of Tom Coughlin (fired in December) would have made negotiations a little easier this offseason because Ngakoue's camp was angered by Coughlin's reported decision to cut off negotiations last July after roughly a month of talks. However, the sides made little, if any, progress, and Ngakoue announced on March 2 that he told the Jaguars he didn't want to sign a long-term deal.

What he brings: The knock on Ngakoue is that he doesn't play the run well, but defensive coordinator Todd Wash has said multiple times that isn't true. Ngakoue is a tireless worker, relentless player and disruptive rusher whose biggest strength is creating turnovers. Of the 12 defensive touchdowns the Jaguars have scored since 2016, Ngakoue is directly responsible for five: a pick-six, a fumble return and three forced fumbles on sacks that other players recovered for TDs. Four of those came in 2017, when the Jaguars made a surprising run to the AFC Championship Game, and he had one last season. -- Michael DiRocco

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Franchise tag salary: $26.824 million


Career highlights: A fourth-round pick in 2016, Prescott was named the Rookie of the Year after helping the Cowboys to an NFC-best 13-3 record with 23 touchdown passes and four interceptions. He has not missed a start since taking over for Tony Romo, posting a 40-24 record. He has been named to the Pro Bowl twice. He had career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdown passes (30) in 2019.

Why he was tagged: Why do you think? Teams don't let franchise quarterbacks hit the market. The Cowboys hope this is a placeholder to the ultimate goal of both sides -- a long-term deal. They will have until July 15 to work out the contract but the sides have been in negotiations this week, so perhaps that is a sign they want to work it out sooner rather than later.

What he brings: Quite simply, he is the leader of the team. Players on both sides of the ball follow him. He has improved as a passer each year, making great strides in 2019 to where he missed Romo's record for passing yards in a season by 2 yards. -- Todd Archer

Brandon Scherff, G, Washington Redskins

Franchise tag salary: $14.781 million

Seasons: Five

Career highlights: Scherff has made the Pro Bowl three times, including in 2019 despite missing the final five games.

Why he was tagged: Scherff rejected a deal during the season worth a reported $13 million per year, though it's uncertain how it was structured. But coach Ron Rivera considers Scherff part of the core, and the Redskins want to keep negotiating with Scherff on a long-term deal. Because of his injury history -- he has missed a combined 13 games the past two seasons and hasn't played a full season since 2016 -- the Redskins can offer Scherff security. The Redskins already might need to find a new left tackle and possibly a left guard, so they don't want to create another hole. There's security in it for them, too.

What he brings: Consistency. Scherff has never made an All-Pro team -- many have said he has that potential -- but he is an excellent guard. He can block with power inside and also play in space, whether as a puller or on screens. That's where he can separate himself from other guards. The Redskins don't have to worry about how he prepares or studies. He's a no-nonsense player. The risk, though, is whether his injuries from the past two years -- a torn pectoral in 2018 and elbow/shoulder injuries last season -- will hinder his play in the future. -- John Keim

Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos

Franchise tag salary: $11.441 million


Career highlights: His teammates believed he was one of the biggest Pro Bowl snubs in in the league this past season -- he was voted second-team All-Pro -- and last year was easily his best overall effort in his career. His athleticism and savvy are on display in every game, but one sticks out for many. As a rookie in 2016, he leapt over blockers in front of him to block an extra point attempt in New Orleans, and the Broncos returned it for a game-winning two-point conversion.

Why he was tagged: Not only is Simmons one of the Broncos' most versatile and prepared players, he is one of their most active in the community as well, given he was Denver's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. He has played every snap of the past two seasons, topping 1,000 in each of those years, and taken on a variety of roles, including nickel cornerback when the defense has had injuries. He is one of those players -- on the field, in the locker room and in the community -- who, if he's not re-signed, other players have to wonder about their own chances of getting a new deal down the road.

What he brings: Simmons had his best overall season in 2019, his first year in Vic Fangio's defense. His four interceptions were a career best as were his 15 passes defensed. He has the athleticism and route-recognition ability to play deep as well as the physicality to play along the line of scrimmage. He is still an ascending player as he enters his fifth year, given he played far more mistake-free this past season as the Broncos played much better assignment football overall. -- Jeff Legwold

Joe Thuney, G, New England Patriots

Franchise tag salary: $14.781 million

Seasons: Four

Career highlights: First player to start in a Super Bowl in the first three years of his career.

Why he was tagged: A 27-year-old who has started every possible game over four seasons, and played at a high level, he is an extremely valuable commodity.

What he brings: Thuney had a 97% pass-block win rate, according to ESPN's metric that uses NFL Next Gen Stats to determine which linemen can sustain their blocks for 2.5 seconds or longer, which was second best among all guards. If the Patriots ultimately believed an extension wasn't likely with Thuney, they could also view him as a valuable trade chip. -- Mike Reiss

Leonard Williams, DT, New York Giants

Franchise tag salary: $16.126 million


Career highlights: Williams was the No. 6 overall pick in 2015 out of USC and made the Pro Bowl in 2016, when he had a career-best 7.0 sacks. He has 266 tackles and 17.5 sacks in five seasons. He finished with 0.5 sacks and two tackles for a loss in 2019 with the Giants and Jets.

Why he was tagged: The Giants liked what they saw in the eight games Williams played for them after the trade last season. He didn't produce the splash plays but still flashed the potential and talent that warranted them making this move. Williams was possibly the Giants' best defensive player over the final eight weeks, which was as much a statement about them as him. He had 20 QB pressures and 14 hurries, tops among Giants defensive linemen, after joining the team. It also can't be separated that the Giants had already invested third- and fifth-round picks in Williams from the trade. So they were already committed to the player heading into this offseason. Allowing him to walk as a free agent would have been disastrous. A tag was the only option to justify and salvage the trade.

What he brings: A quality NFL player. Youth and potential. Williams turns 26 in June. He's young, and there is hope he develops into a consistent difference-making player. The pressures and hurries suggest he's causing disruption. He's hasn't proved to be a great finisher. -- Jordan Raanan

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