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Key Takeaways From the Franchise Tags

The deadline for NFL teams to use their franchise tag came and went this week, with 10 clubs exercising that option:

What did we learn from those decisions? Here are some key takeaways:

Who shouldn’t have been franchised?

Cam Robinson, OT Jaguars: I don’t see him at that level of a player – he struggled in 2020, allowing 40 pressures, seven QB hits and five sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. It shows you the value that teams put on OT’s. There are not many top-tier tackles available in free agency this year, so Jacksonville must have thought it was safer to overpay Robinson (the tag will be in the area of $13.5 million) than take their chances in free agency.

Which player that wasn’t tagged should have been?

Shaq Barrett, DE, Buccaneers: They don’t win the Super Bowl without him. I love Chris Godwin, the player they chose to tag instead, but it’s easier to find a receiver than a pass rusher. Barrett is a perfect fit for Todd Bowles’ scheme.

Why were there no transition tags?

We talk a lot about the franchise tag, but Tuesday was also the deadline for teams to use the transition tag. When a player is offered the transition tag, the salary they are offered is the average of the top 10 at his position (as opposed to top five for franchise). They can negotiate with other teams but their original team has the right of first refusal. If the transition player doesn’t sign with another team by July 22, his original team has exclusive negotiating rights until Week 10 of the 2021 season.

So why were there no transition tags? They don’t leave a team with much certainty. This time of year, I want as much certainty as possible. The transition tag doesn’t create that for teams, especially with a declining salary cap.

What can we learn from the Saints decision to tag safety Marcus Williams?

No team in the league has a tougher cap situation right now than the New Orleans Saints. They have a lot to do in order to bring their cap number down, but clearly they thought it was important to lock up Williams. It’s a similar circumstance to that in Denver, where the Broncos put the franchise tag of Justin Simmons for the second year in a row. Safeties with range and athleticism have tremendous value. Williams has been a productive, dependable player since he’s been in the league.