Chandler Jones (DE)

Contract Details: Jones, Gresham, Church

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed contracts:

Extra Points: Lang, Jones, Jeffery, Cyprien

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Free agent guard T.J. Lang will not be visiting the Broncos following the team’s signing of lineman Ronald Leary, tweets Mike Kliss of 9News. The second-best free agent interior lineman still has plenty of suitors, as he’s set to meet with the Lions and Seahawks. The Packers, his former team, also have interest.
  • Had the Cardinals not extended Chandler Jones, the pass rusher would have eaten up over $14MM of spending space as their franchise player in 2017. He’ll instead take up around $10MM of cap room in 2017, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.
  • Alshon Jeffery‘s one-year, $14MM deal with the Eagles is the largest non-franchise tag one-year pact in NFL history, according to the NFL Media Research Group (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). Jeffery’s pact eclipsed Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s one-year, $12MM deal with the Jets.
  • The Jaguars didn’t make a contract offer to strong safety Jonathan Cyprien, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union tweets. After spending four seasons in Jacksonville, the 26-year-old joined the Titans on a four-year, $25MM contract.
  • The Rams‘ release of defensive end Eugene Sims came with a failed physical designation, Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch tweets. The 31-year-old was let go by the team early this morning.
  • Akeem Spence said the Buccaneers expressed interest in bringing him back next season, but the defensive tackle needs a “fresh start,” tweets ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. Spence ultimately inked a three-year, $10.5MM deal with the Lions.
  • Rudy Ford ran a 4.25 at today’s Auburn Pro Day, tweets agent Blake Baratz. The safety was told earlier this week that he wasn’t healthy enough to participate at the combine. Baratz declares Ford “the most underrated prospect in the draft.”

Cardinals To Extend Chandler Jones

The Cardinals and Chandler Jones are finalizing a five-year extension, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Exact terms are not yet known and Rapoport only says that the deal is “going to be large.” Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets that the deal is expected to “come up a little short” of the five-year, $80MM deal Olivier Vernon received from the Giants last offseason. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets that the defender will make over $16MM annually, which will translate to around $83MM or $84MM total. The reporter adds that Jones will make over $50MM in guaranteed money.

Arizona placed the franchise tag on Jones earlier this month, giving him a one-year, $14MM+ tender. Under the terms of the franchise tag rules, the two sides had until mid-July to work out an extension. However, with minimal cap space for the coming season and several key free agents in limbo, the Cardinals were eager to hammer out a cap-smoothing deal. It remains to be seen how much the team might be saving in 2017.

The Cardinals’ list of free agents currently includes defensive lineman Calais Campbell (ranked No. 9 on my Top 50 list of free agents), safety Tony Jefferson (No. 11), and linebacker Kevin Minter (No. 22). Other notable free agents include running backs Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington, and Stepfan Taylor, tight end Darren Fells, center A.Q. Shipley, cornerback Marcus Cooper, and safety D.J. Swearinger.

Jones is one of the league’s premier edge defenders. In his first year with Arizona, he racked up eleven sacks and graded out as the league’s No. 7 pass rusher, according to Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cards, Chandler Jones Discussing Extension

The Cardinals placed the franchise tag on edge rusher Chandler Jones last week, but the two sides are now discussing a deal that would keep Jones in the desert for the long haul, tweets Jason Cole of Bleacher Report.Chandler Jones

[RELATED: Cardinals Re-Sign Jermaine Gresham]

Jones is already set to earn north of $14MM under the terms of the franchise tender, but the 27-year-old now has until July 15 to hammer out an extension with the Cardinals. The tag was always seen as the likely outcome between Arizona and Jones, as team management indicated — essentially from the day Jones was acquired from the Patriots — that he wouldn’t be allowed to hit the open market.

A long-term deal, however, would not only give Jones financial security for the long term, but would likely lower his 2017 cap charge, a key factor for the relatively cash-strapped Cardinals. Although they’e already re-signed tight end Jermaine Gresham, the Cards are still hoping to retain critical defenders such as Calais Campbell, Tony Jefferson, and Kevin Minter, all of whom are unrestricted free agents.

Jones, whom Arizona picked up from New England in exchange for a second-round pick, posted an excellent first campaign with the Cardinals, racking up 11 sacks and grading as the league’s No. 7 pass rusher, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Players

The deadline to designate franchise or transition players for 2017 has passed. Here’s the rundown of the players that were tagged, plus the candidates that did not receive the designation:

Franchise players (exclusive):

Franchise players (non-exclusive):

*second tag; players receive raise over designated salary for position tender

Candidates who didn’t receive tags:

Cardinals Franchise Tag Chandler Jones

As expected, the Cardinals have placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Chandler Jones. The Cardinals had until March 1 to make the call, but they are taking care of business early.

In theory, the non-exclusive tag allows room for Jones to land elsewhere if he signs another team’s offer sheet and the Cardinals opt not to match. However, any team signing Jones away would have to give Arizona two first-round picks. That’s a steep price to pay on top of whatever contract he commands. Therefore, Jones will likely play 2017 under a one-year, $14.55MM tender for linebackers unless the two sides reach agreement on a longer pact between now and July.Chandler Jones

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In January, coach Bruce Arians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Weeks later, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill gave additional confirmation of those plans.

We’re not going to mess around with that,” Bidwill said with regards to Jones. “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”

In my most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, I had Jones as the No. 2 player available, second only to quarterback Kirk Cousins. Our defensive rankings by position naturally had Jones as the top edge rusher available. Now, that mantle belongs to teammate Calais Campbell.

Jones now becomes the first player to get hit with the franchise tag in the 2017 offseason. More players will receive the designation in the next 48 hours.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

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Starting today, NFL teams will be able to place franchise and transition tags on potential free agents for the first time. While the window for franchise tags is open, most clubs won’t actually tag any players right away.

As our list of important dates for the 2017 offseason shows, the deadline for teams to assign those tags doesn’t come until Wednesday, March 1st. Usually, when it comes to NFL contract discussions, deadlines spur action, so teams will wait until that deadline approaches to officially use franchise tags, once it becomes clear that they won’t be able to strike a longer-term deal yet with their respective free-agents-to-be.

Even though the action might not heat up for a couple more weeks, it’s worth taking a closer look at what to expect during 2017’s franchise tag period. The NFL hasn’t officially announced the salary cap figure for 2017, but former agent Joel Corry of CBSSports.com recently projected the 2017 franchise tag salaries based on a presumed $168MM cap. Here are the expected non-exclusive franchise tag amounts:

  • Quarterback: $21.395MM
  • Running back: $12.377MM
  • Wide receiver: $15.826MM
  • Tight end: $9.894MM
  • Offensive line: $14.444MM
  • Defensive end: $16.955MM
  • Defensive tackle: $13.468MM
  • Linebacker: $14.754MM
  • Cornerback: $14.297MM
  • Safety: $10.961MM
  • Punter/kicker: $4.863MM

(For a refresher on the characteristics of the exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tags, as well as the transition tag, be sure to check out PFR’s glossary entry on the subject.)

Here’s our look at the most likely candidates to be tagged, along with several more outside possibilities:

Virtual Locks:

Chandler Jones, DE, Cardinals: Maybe Jones should headline a category titled “Super Duper Virtual Locks.” In January, coach Bruce "<strongArians said that the Cards would apply the franchise tag to Jones if they were unable to immediately lock him up to a long-term deal. Then, just this week, Cardinals president Michael Bidwill offered additional confirmation of that plan. The $16.955MM tag will be applied to Jones in the next couple of weeks and the two sides will then have until the summer to work out a long-term deal. The odds of a longer pact coming together seem pretty good, considering the Cardinals knew what they were getting themselves into when they traded for Jones last year.

Kawann Short, DT, Panthers: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits that Short will “probably” be tagged and, unlike ex-teammate Josh Norman, Short doesn’t have a problem with it. The 28-year-old was the third-best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, and the Panthers will gladly pay him ~$13.5MM on a one-year deal. A multi-year agreement could require an average annual value of $17MM, so our early guess is that Short will wind up actually playing on the tender.


Le’Veon Bell
, RB, Steelers: We’ve known for a while now that the Steelers will use the franchise tag on Bell. For all of his off-the-field headaches, Bell still stands as one of the league’s most dynamic running backs and a one-year, $12.3MM deal would suit Pittsburgh just fine. Sometime after the tag is in place, we’re expecting the two sides to agree on a long-term deal. As I wrote in our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings, Bell will top LeSean McCoy‘s ~$8MM AAV and Doug Martin‘s $15MM in guarantees on a new multiyear pact. Of course, other factors such as cash flow will be pivotal in talks, particularly given the limited shelf life of running backs.
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Cardinals Prez: We Won’t Let C. Jones Go

Back in January, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians told reporters point blank that the team is willing to place the franchise tag on the star defensive end if the two sides cannot agree on a long-term deal. If that wasn’t clear enough, we now have additional confirmation from team president Michael Bidwill. Chandler Jones

[RELATED: Zach Links’ 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings 2.0]

We’re not going to mess around with that,” Bidwill said (via the team website). “He’s a great pass rusher, but if we can’t agree to terms that work for us, we’re just going to franchise him. His people know that.”

This year, the non-exclusive tag for defensive ends is expected to come in at $16.955MM. Ideally, the Cardinals would like to sign Jones to a multi-year deal that will keep him in place through his prime, but the tag will be their fallback if they can’t achieve that.

Given Jones’ talent, position, and age (26), his reps will push for astronomical figures on a brand new deal with a favorable cashflow like Olivier Vernon‘s free agent pact with the Giants. The Cardinals were aware of the cost factor when they traded for Jones last season, but they’ll only go so far this spring given the leverage of the first-time tag.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings 2.0

For 30 of the NFL’s 32 teams, the offseason is already underway. Here is the latest installment of our 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings, which is comprised only of upcoming unrestricted free agents, and is ranked by projected guaranteed money. In parentheses next to each player, you’ll find their position in the early January edition of the rankings. For more, check out our master list of all 2017 free agents.

Free Agent Power Rankings 2 (vertical)

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (1): Cousins may not be the best player on this list, but he will come away with the most guaranteed money of any free agent this offseason. Quarterbacks are perpetually in high demand and short supply and as a result Cousins could become one of the league’s three highest paid signal callers. Because Washington has already used the franchise tag on Cousins, a repeat would cost them a whopping $23.94MM for 2017. The belief is that Cousins is seeking that $23.94MM number as an AAV goal. There has been talk of the Redskins shopping their star QB, but the team has since publicly stated its intention of locking him up to a long-term dealKirk Cousins (vertical)

2. Chandler Jones, LB/DE (2): Jones has been an absolute stud ever since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2012. If we go by the numbers at Pro Football Focus, 2016 was actually Jones’ best year to date. This past season, he finished out with a strong 87.4 overall score, tying him for seventh amongst all edge rushers with Houston’s Whitney Mercilus. In the previous four seasons with New England, Jones averaged a 79.38 on PFF. Every team could use a sack machine like Jones, but coach Bruce Arians says the Cardinals will place the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. He’s technically ticketed for unrestricted free agency, but it doesn’t sound like Jones is going anywhere.

3. Kawann Short, DT (3): Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short says he won’t have any problem signing the franchise tender if the team tags him. “I wouldn’t fight it or anything,” said Short in early January. In 2016, he turned in his fourth straight 16-game season and ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best interior defender. Short, 28 this week, also had six sacks on the year. I think the Panthers would be wise to hit Short with the ~$13.468MM franchise tag or sign him to a long-term deal, but there is at least a non-trivial chance of him reaching the open market.

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PFR’s 2017 Free Agent Power Rankings

The regular season is over and, for most teams, the offseason is underway. Here is the latest installment of our 2017 NFL Free Agent Power Rankings, which is comprised only of upcoming unrestricted free agents, and is ranked by projected guaranteed money. In parentheses next to each player, you’ll find their position in the November edition of the rankings. For more, check out our master list of all 2017 free agents.

2017 Free Agent Power Rankings With Text (vertical)

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (1): In 2015, Cousins established himself as a solid NFL quarterback. That summer, the Redskins told Cousins they wanted him to prove it all over again before giving him a monster contract. Cousins was happy to oblige and he has now increased his value even further. After a so-so start to 2016 season, Cousins closed out strong to finish as Pro Football Focus’ No. 8 ranked QB, putting him ahead of notables such as Matthew Stafford, Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Cam Newton, and Philip Rivers. All of those players have gotten their big pay day and now it’s time for Cousins to join the club. "<strong

2. Chandler Jones, LB/DE (2): Before you start salivating over the idea of Jones joining your favorite team’s front seven, we have some bad news: Bruce Arians says the Cardinals will place the franchise tag on him if they cannot agree on a long-term deal. Whether it’s on a one-year, $16.955MM deal or a multi-year contract that tops Olivier Vernon‘s Giants deal, it sounds like Jones is staying put. Jones, 27 in May, played in all 16 games this year and racked up 11 sacks.

3. Kawann Short, DT (4): Contract talks between the Panthers and Short stalled last summer and Fletcher Cox‘s market-boosting deal with the Eagles didn’t help matters. Short wound up playing 2016 for peanuts ($1.473MM) and he turned in yet another stellar season. Short was the fourth-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly the same as his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. In June, it was said that the Panthers did not want to go too far beyond an average annual salary of $15MM. If he’s not franchised tagged or signed to a long-term deal by Carolina, there are a few teams that will happily go beyond that point.

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