An interesting name has surfaced as a possible franchise tag candidate — one that appeared on the waiver wire during the 2018 season.
The Bills drafted Ed Oliver at No. 9 overall last year, have promising 2018 third-rounder Harrison Phillips coming back from injury and are set to retain Star Lotulelei for a third season. Nevertheless, teams are expecting the Bills to tag defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora.
That scenario would represent a remarkable rise for the elder of the Bills’ two D-line Phillipses. Buffalo claimed the former second-round pick off waivers from Miami in 2018. A key cog in the Bills’ top-tier pass defense, Jordan Phillips registered 9.5 sacks last season — nearly twice as many as he collected from 2016-18. Phillips also recorded 16 quarterback hits but graded as Pro Football Focus’ No. 103 interior defenders (out of 113 full-time players).
The 6-foot-6, 341-pound defender would collect approximately $16.7MM on a franchise tag in advance of his age-28 season. That would be a significant raise for the part-time starter, who signed a one-year, $4.5MM deal in March 2019 to stay with the Bills.
While the Bills have several notable investments at defensive tackle, they do possess plenty of cap space to afford a tag. Buffalo is projected to hold more than $82MM in space — third-most in the league. Should the Bills tag Phillips, it would give them a deep stable of interior defenders and further illuminate the need for an outside pass rusher. Shaq Lawson is a free agent, and Trent Murphy has not exceeded 10 QB hits in either of his two Bills seasons.
It would still be interesting to see Phillips’ name included with the likes of Chris Jones, Matt Judon or Yannick Ngakoue — all potential tag recipients. Those pass rushers will carry much greater name recognition going into the tag window. Teams can apply tags from Feb. 25-March 10.
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