The tag deadline had some interesting results
The NFL doesn’t like being out of the spotlight and has made its show available to an insatiable audience most of the year. Last week, we were evaluating college prospects at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and we jump right into a free agency discussion with today’s franchise tag deadline. Washington was the first team to apply the tag this year, placing it on DT Daron Payne after having the best season of his career.
The biggest news was the QB market this year and the deadline created by the franchise tag. Several deals have been reached before today’s 4 p.m. deadline, and a former MVP has entered the next phase of his negotiations after receiving the tag. Washington COs have been in QB purgatory forever, so it’s easy to want to do what Ron Rivera did last year and call every team about every QB that might be available. That doesn’t mean it’s the smartest thing to do, or that it will solve the never-ending problem facing Washington teams.
Washington switched to Carson Wentz last year after being rejected by Matthew Stafford (2021) and Russell Wilson (2022). They traded two third-round picks, as well as runners-up last year, to take Wentz and his full $28.3 million contract from the Indianapolis Colts. Wentz passed away as most rational observers predicted, and now the team is pushing Sam Howell’s plan for now on fan base. Taylor Heinicke is likely to find a new home, leaving many fans to consider what options may be available.
There have been several big moves so far this year that would have made Ron Rivera 2022 very excited. Derek Carr was released by the Las Vegas Raiders and spent three weeks as a free agent before signing a 4-year, $150 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Geno Smith had his breakout year with the Seattle Seahawks after languishing as a former bust, current replacement for years. Seattle rewarded Smith with a 3-year, $75 million contract.
Today’s deadline involved two quarterbacks Washington fans know very well. Daniel Jones was close to leaving the New York Giants organization before head coach Brian Daboll took over and helped Jones lead his team to a playoff win over the Vikings. Jones was expected to get the tag by many observers after his contract demands matched QBs who were considered a level above him. The Giants were able to lock Jones in for a 4-year, $160 million contract just before today’s deadline. This allowed them to place the franchise tag on RB Saquon Barkley.
The other big name (ger) to watch today was Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who was at odds with his team over a contract he would like to be fully guaranteed. The Ravens didn’t agree to the same kind of deal the desperate Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson last year. Baltimore applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jackson, which will pay him about $32.4 million this year if he plays there. It also makes Jackson available to other teams who can make him an offer the Ravens should match. If they choose not to tie that deal, the Ravens would receive two 1st-round picks from the team that signs Jackson. It’s the same tag the Redskins used on Kirk Cousins. They used the exclusive tag on him the following year and then he signed a series of fully guaranteed deals with the Minnesota Vikings.
Lamar Jackson is reportedly looking for a fully guaranteed deal, likely 5 years, $250 million. That would be in addition to the two first-round picks the team signing him would have to send to the Ravens. For the Washington Commanders, that would be a massive commitment from a team whose ownership would likely change this year and a coaching staff that may not finish the season with Ron Rivera in charge.
Lamar Jackson would be a massive upgrade on the seemingly endless parade of QBs who not only passed through Ashburn, but started real NFL games here. Despite rumors that Dan Snyder wants to make this fantasy a reality as a final major for the rest of the league, don’t expect Lamar Jackson to wear the uniform Washington decides to put on the field next season.