Franchise tag recap: Bell, Joyner among designations

By Nick Shook
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The tag deadline has come and gone, and with it arrived a fresh batch of players whose contract situations will be worth monitoring for various reasons in the next month(s). We collected a roundup of all tag action below, including who did and didn’t receive a tag before the Tuesday cutoff.



Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers


News broke Monday that the Steelers intended to use the tag on Bell to keep the elite running back in the Steel City, and they followed through on Tuesday, using the exclusive-rights tag on Bell. We’re far from a resolution on this one, though, as Bell is bent on reaching an unseen salary number for the position. The tag does ensure, however, that Bell won’t be able to leave for another team in this year’s free agency period.

Lamarcus Joyner, Los Angeles Rams


Joyner is sticking around in Los Angeles after the Rams placed the tagon the safety Tuesday. Joyner is set to make $11.29 million in 2018, though the sides have until July 16 to come to an agreement on a long-term deal. This situation came down to a decision between Joyner and wideout Sammy Watkins (for whom the Rams traded last season), and as Gregg Rosenthal said on NFL Up To The Minute, it proves how much of a badass Joyner has been for the Rams since moving to safety.

Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears


A year after declining Fuller’s fifth-year option (because of recent injury), Chicago is doing its best to keep the corner around without opening the vault for him. When healthy, Fuller has proven to be an impact player at the position — he just hasn’t always been healthy. The transition tag saves Chicago $2 million (by taking an average of the top-10 salaries at the position as opposed to the top five) and allows the Bears to get a sample of what other teams might be willing to pay him, while also reserving the right to match an external offer.

Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys


Lawrence will have to wait a year to “break the bank” but will get plenty ($17.1 million) in 2018 after the Cowboys used the franchise tag on Lawrence on Monday. Lawrence and Dallas have until July 16 to strike a long-term deal, but the pass-rusher doesn’t mind playing under the tag and waiting for a more secure payday in 2019. His prompt signing of the tender proved as much.

Ezekiel Ansah, Detroit Lions


Ansah is vital to Detroit’s success and after posting 12 sacks in 14 games, the Lions were fairly quick to ensure they didn’t lose the edge-rushing menace. You know the drill at this point: They have until July 16 to sign Ansah long term, or else he’ll play 2018 on a $17.5 million salary. Ansah’s injury issues have made a long-term deal a little less likely, but if he plays under the tag and replicates 2017, that will become the logical next step.

Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins


Landry’s tag doesn’t solve the situation but does protect the Dolphins from seeing him walk with zero return. He received a non-exclusive tag, and Miami has included him in trade talks recently. The wideout told the Dolphins Saturday he’ll sign the tag, which would help facilitate a trade or keep him in Miami for 2018, if a long-term deal doesn’t come together.


Not tagged


Sammy Watkins, Los Angeles Rams


Watkins was the odd man out in the two-person debate for the tag, with the Rams choosing to tag Lamarcus Joyner over the wideout. Watkins is now poised to be a co-headliner for an otherwise unexciting free-agent receiver class, if the Rams can’t secure him in the next week. His co-headliner? That would be…

Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars


Robinson learned Tuesday he wouldn’t receive a tag from the Jaguars, who appear to be content with letting the receiver walk in free agency. If he makes it to free agency, he’ll likely pull significant offers from teams flush with cap and desperate at receiver, though his ACL injury suffered in Week 1 of 2017 might lower his value slightly.

Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers


Considered a tag candidate, Gano instead inked a four-year deal with the Panthers on Tuesday, hours before the deadline. In what will be a thin kicker market, it was wise for the Panthers to lock up the specialist.

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