Franchise Tag Leftovers: Mo, Miller, T. Johnson

As of last weekend, Muhammad Wilkerson and his camp had all but accepted that a long-term deal with the Jets was not to be, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. But beginning on Wednesday night, when New York began to make a last-ditch effort to retain its franchise player for the long haul, things began to change, as the club sent a new offer to Wilkerson’s agent. Though the star defensive end was angling for a six-year contract, Wilkerson was open to a five-year pact as long it contained an average value and guarantees similar to that of Fletcher Cox, who signed an extension with the Eagles last month. The club responded by emailing a final proposal at 3:15am ET Friday morning, and Wilkerson and his team accepted in time for the paperwork to be completed by Friday’s 4pm ET deadline.

Here’s more on several of the franchise-tagged players:

  • Despite his off-the-field drama, Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson is likely to be more expensive than Wilkerson whenever the club looks to extend him, writes Darryl Slater of While Wilkerson has never been involved in any off-the-field incidents, Richardson served a four-game suspension in 2015 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and is facing a one-game ban in 2016 for a conduct policy infraction. Still, given that the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years, Wilkerson should be able to score a large contract. Of course, New York has increased its leverage by locking up Wilkerson and drafting Leonard Williams in the first round last year.
  • While Von Miller is fully guaranteed $42MM under the terms of his extension with the Broncos, the All Pro edge rusher is essentially guaranteed $78.5MM given the structure of the contract, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details. Because of the payout schedule, Denver would have to accept $32.8MM in dead money in order to cut Miller before March 2018. The next year, $9MM of Miller’s $17.5MM fully guarantees in March, meaning the Broncos would need to be willing to release Miller rather than pay him for one more season at an effective cost of $8.5MM. Jason Fitzgerald of the Sporting News, meanwhile, points out that Miller’s relatively cheap signing bonus ($17MM) means he doesn’t have much dead money protection in the final two years of the deal.
  • The Rams made the right call in not extending cornerback Trumaine Johnson, argues Vincent Bonsignore of Johnson was largely part-time player prior to 2015, and while he posted a breakout campaign during his first season as a full-time starter, there’s still some uncertainty regarding his play. And given that Johnson had no incentive to sign a new deal that averaged less than his $13.9MM franchise tag, Los Angeles didn’t have much room to negotiate. Instead, the club can use 2016 as a measuring stick, and either franchise Johnson again after the season, or re-engage talks about a long-term deal.
  • As Florio opines in a separate piece, the franchise tag isn’t a bad proposition for the players who didn’t agree to extensions with their respective clubs. Though none of Alshon Jeffery, Kirk Cousins, Eric Berry, or Johnson scored long-term security, they will each be among the highest-paid players at their positions for the upcoming season.
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