NFL franchise tag deadline: Where 15 players stand following 2020 cutoff to reach long-term contracts

Nate Davis

The NFL's deadline for players bearing the franchise tag to sign long-term extensions in 2020 expired Wednesday afternoon. Where does that leave Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the 14 players who received some kind of tag in March as they roll into training camp – presumably – and what should be an unprecedented regular season?

Here's a breakdown of each man's outlook as well as answers that apply collectively to questions regarding their near-term futures:

When are they next eligible for a long-term deal? Those relegated to playing on the one-year tag cannot begin negotiating for a new contract until the completion of the 2020 season – meaning none are likely to have a legitimate reason to do so until they are re-tagged in 2021 or released into next year's free agent pool.

Can they hold out of training camp? Players like Prescott, who already signed their tenders, are now officially under contract and must report whenever camps begin. Those who have not yet signed are under no obligation to show up for team activities until they put pen to paper and would not be subject to any fines in the interim.

Can they hold out into the regular season? As long as a franchise (or transition) player reports before Week 11 of the regular season begins, he is eligible to collect a pro-rated salary. If a player does not report before Week 11, he is not eligible to play this season.

Can tags be rescinded? If the player hasn't signed, then yes. Removing a tag releases a player into free agency.

Playing on the tag in 2020

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Shaquil Barrett: Undrafted in 2014, he spent five virtually anonymous seasons in Denver. But after joining the Bucs last year, he exploded to lead the league with 19½ sacks, also a franchise record. Barrett will make at least $15.8 million this year – he wants to be paid at the defensive end level ($17.8 million) – and could thrive anew on a defense that should be consistently staked to leads by new QB Tom Brady.

Arizona Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake: The only player slapped with the transition tag in 2020, he's set to make nearly $8.5 million – a sizable raise given his rookie deal paid $3.4 million over four years. Drake, a midseason acquisition from Miami last year, seemed to fit very well (102 scrimmage yards per outing) in his new offense based on an eight-game sample size. Approach that production in 2020, and he stands to cash in once more.

Pittsburgh Steelers LB Bud Dupree: He parlayed a career year (personal best 11½ sacks in 2019) into the tag. But Dupree may have to prove in 2020 that's he's more than a beneficiary of playing opposite T.J. Watt, especially after Pittsburgh drafted pass rush specialist Alex Highsmith with its second pick this spring.

Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green: Making $17.9 million seems like a pretty good deal given Green has missed 23 games over the past two seasons, including all of 2019 after suffering what turned out to be a season-ending ankle injury in training camp. (Green signed his 2020 tender on Friday.)

Minnesota Vikings S Anthony Harris: Undrafted in 2015, he tied for the league lead with six interceptions last year and will see his salary jump to $11.4 million.

Los Angeles Chargers TE Hunter Henry: One of the league's more promising young players at his position, he rebounded to catch 55 passes for 652 yards and five TDs in 2019 after tearing up his knee in May of 2018. For $10.6 million – only kickers and running backs make fewer money on a franchise tag – Henry might even be a bargain this fall.

Baltimore Ravens LB Matthew​ Judon: The AFC North champions' leading sack man in 2019 with 9½, he'll make $16.8 million this year, a hybrid salary for a linebacker and defensive end. The Ravens made a similar financial compromise for Terrell Suggs in the past.

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue: He's still a Jag and still not happy about it. Despite collecting 37½ sacks in four seasons, no other team stepped up to liberate Ngakoue in a trade. Question now is when will he show up in #DUUUVAL?

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: This year's only "exclusive" franchise player – he couldn't even negotiate with other teams – the two-time Pro Bowler will play for $31.4 million in 2020 and would make nearly $38 million in 2021 if he's tagged again. Who needs an extension? For what it's worth, if Prescott manages to fully leverage the offensive weaponry at his disposal under new coach Mike McCarthy – including first-round WR CeeDee Lamb – he could easily force Jerry Jones into writing some very hefty checks a year from now.

Washington G Brandon Scherff: Any time a guard can play a season for left tackle-caliber compensation ($15 million)? Win. 

Denver Broncos S Justin Simmons: Like Harris, he enjoyed a breakout 2019 campaign. PFF's second-ranked safety from last season will also earn an $11.4 million reward.

New England Patriots G Joe Thuney: See Scherff ... though Thuney will take home a, um, paltry $14.8 million haul in 2020.

New York Giants DL Leonard Williams: If you're a D-lineman who excels in just about every area aside from amassing big pass-rush stats – well, not easy to convince a front office you're worth the Brink's Truck. Williams, obtained in a trade from the Jets last season, will collect $16.1 million for his services this year.


Tennessee Titans RB Derrick Henry: Last season's league rushing champ (1,540 yards) and playoff revelation struck an 11th-hour deal Wednesday afternoon. Per ESPN, Henry's tag was replaced by a four-year, $50 million arrangement that includes $25.5 million in guarantees. Pretty fair package for both sides. Henry realizes financial security rarely enjoyed by running backs but will rank only fifth in terms of annual salary at the position – a decent compromise given his limitations in the passing game.

Kansas City Chiefs DT Chris Jones: Arguably the game's premier interior pass rusher not named Aaron Donald, the Super Bowl LIV hero (three pass deflections) and leading sack man the past two seasons (24½ since 2018) landed a four-year extension worth up to $85 million Tuesday.


Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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