Dontari Poe

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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Latest On Chiefs’ Talks With Berry, Poe

The Chiefs hold two of the highest-profile pending free agents in Eric Berry and Dontari Poe, but the team is discussing new deals with both defenders, John Dorsey said Thursday (via Dave Skretta of the Associated Press). Dorsey confirmed dialogue’s commenced between the team and the respective camps of Berry and Poe, describing the discussions with the nose tackle’s camp as “good conversations” while elaborating further on Berry.

First off, I think Eric Berry had a fantastic season. Everybody within this organization, the community, has the utmost respect for that guy,” Dorsey said. “We’ve had very positive conversations with his representatives … Hopefully two sides can come together and mesh this thing out.”

Berry’s agent, Chad Speck, confirmed the Chiefs and the the All-Pro safety are talking. But he stopped short of saying the talks are positive, noting (on Twitter) the parties have “a long way to go.” Berry, 28, will enter his eighth season in 2017 and said recently he will not play it on the franchise tag as he did in 2016. It would cost the Chiefs nearly $13MM to franchise Berry again, and that would directly cut into their funding for a Poe re-up.

The Chiefs and Poe could not come to terms on an extension before last season, and word coming out of Kansas City in December indicated a future with Poe on the tag and Berry being signed to a long-term deal. The Dorsey regime is not usually vocal about contract discussions, so little emerging from the sides’ progress is not uncommon. A Poe tag is projected to cost the Chiefs $13.468MM. He has not made it known at this point if the tag is a non-starter like Berry, but that doesn’t seem likely since the $13MM-plus value would more than double his 2016 salary on the fifth-year option. The Chiefs stand to possess less than $4MM in cap space, but the franchise can create more than $17MM more by cutting Nick Foles and Jamaal Charles.

While Berry reaching the market would represent major news, the 26-year-old Poe resides as one of multiple impact 3-4 tackles in this class. Although, the Panthers are likely to place the franchise tag on Kawann Short and the Ravens have been open about their desire to keep Brandon Williams.

[RELATED: Chiefs’ Top 3 Offseason Needs]

Dorsey also attempted to quiet noise about a potential Packers future. He’s signed through 2017, but Skretta notes that is the last year of his Chiefs contract. The team wants to extend he and Andy Reid, also in the final year of his deal, but rumors about a Dorsey return to Green Bay have cropped up at multiple points this offseason.

From my family’s perspective and mine, this has been the greatest four years of my life. I love this city, I love this team, I love this community. I think this is one of the most stable franchises in the NFL,” Dorsey said. “I love coming to work every day. I don’t know what more I can say.”

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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AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Gates, Broncos

The Chiefs will probably put the franchise tag on defensive tackle Dontari Poe in 2017 while working to lock up Eric Berry on a long-term deal, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com opines. Berry, a cancer survivor, is in the midst of a tremendous season as he plays out his one-year franchise tender.

Over the summer, the odds of Berry staying in Kansas City didn’t seem strong. Now, one has to imagine that the Chiefs will do everything in their power to retain him. Using the franchise tag on Berry for a second straight year would be costly and they would be better off using it on Poe and delaying a long-term contract with him.

Berry would be owed $12.96MM if the Chiefs again place the franchise tag on him, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out should the Chiefs balk at meeting the soon-to-be 28-year-old safety’s asking price, he notes other teams would, mentioning Berry’s hometown Falcons as one who might. Kansas City stands to be one of the most cap-strapped teams in the league in 2017, so navigating the Poe/Berry situation will be difficult.

Here’s more from the AFC West as the division’s biggest game of the season approaches.

  • Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is doing well, working hard, and hopeful to be back for the playoffs, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The ninth-year running back is eligible to come off IR in Week 17. The Chiefs can be in much better position to score a playoff bye — which would be their first since 2003 — if they can navigate past the Raiders tonight. That would give Charles an extra week in his quest to make a comeback and likely return as a change-of-pace back behind Spencer Ware.
  • Antonio Gates is signed through the 2017 season but hasn’t decided whether or not he’ll come back for a 14th campaign. The 36-year-old tight end said the Chargers being a viable AFC West contender will determine that but does expect that to happen, per Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “My thing when I decide [whether to play another season] is, ‘Do we have a legitimate chance?’” Gates said. “I feel like we have a legitimate chance. I know the cliche. But I’m saying, legitimately, we should have a chance. Top to bottom, what we we’re going to be able to do, what we’re still able to do now even with the guys we’ve lost. I feel like in my heart we have a chance to win a Super Bowl next year. I feel like I deserve that. That’s what I want.” Currently 5-7 and en route to a second consecutive last-place West finish, San Diego’s lost numerous players to injuries for a second straight year, Gates missing multiple games earlier this season. Gates is in the decline phase of his career but has remained one of Philip Rivers‘ auxiliary targets, hauling in 34 passes for 327 yards and five touchdowns.
  • Brandon Marshall reinjured his left hamstring during the second half of the Broncos‘ win over the Jaguars, and Troy Renck of Denver7 notes growing signs are pointing to the team’s top non-rush linebacker missing Sunday’s game against the Titans. Recently signed to a four-year, $32MM extension, Marshall became the most notable investment in an inside linebacker in nearly a decade. He missed a game Denver lost earlier this season, against the Chargers in October. Former seventh-round pick Corey Nelson would be in line to start if Marshall sits.
  • Some players Broncos worked out three futures-contract candidates on Tuesday: center Michael Brewster and guards Reese Dismukes and Cyril Lemon (Twitter link via Renck).

Dallas Robinson contributed to this report

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/3/16

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • Jerry Attaochu underwent surgery this week, and the Chargers made the customary move of placing the third-year pass-rusher on IR. Nose tackle Ryan Carrethers will take Attaochu’s roster spot, Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (on Twitter). A former fifth-round Chargers pick in 2014, Carrethers already has 20 games of NFL experience — three starts — on which to draw after his latest promotion from the practice squad.
  • Demetri Goodson‘s third NFL season will conclude after the Packers placed the cornerback on IR and signed fellow corner Makinton Dorleant off their practice squad, Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter). Goodson played in six games for the Packers this year and started three for a team that’s struggled to keep its cornerbacks healthy. A rookie UDFA, Dorleant has not played in an NFL game yet. He’ll likely contribute on special teams, per Cohen.
  • The Bills have promoted tight end Gerald Christian from the practice squad, reports Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News (via Twitter). Starter Charles Clay missed the team’s flight to Oakland due to the birth of his child, so Christian, the Mr. Irrelevent from the 2015 draft, will provide some depth at tight end. To make room on the roster, the team released kickoff specialist Jordan Gay.
  • The Chiefs have promoted defensive tackle T.J. Barnes to the active roster, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter). If Dontari Poe is unable to play, Barnes could slide into the backup nose tackle role behind Jarvis Jenkins.
  • The Giants have signed linebacker Deontae Skinner to the active roster and waived center Shane McDermott, reports James Kratch of NJ.com (via Twitter). This is a flip-flop from the maneuver the Giants made last weekend, indicating some improved health for their offensive front.

Jason Fitzgerald On Gronk, Romo, Giants, Chiefs

Who will be the top unrestricted free agents this offseason? Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com throws out several names that may not be tagged by their current teams (via Twitter): Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short, Giants defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, and Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore.

The cap guru answered a number of additional questions last night on Twitter. We collected some of the highlights, which you can find below…

  • Considering his $7MM cap hit and low salary in 2017, Fitzgerald can’t envision the Patriots trading tight end Rob Gronkowski. We learned earlier this week that the 27-year-old needs back surgery, which should keep him out for the rest of the regular season.
  • Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram could ask for Ryan Kerrigan-money during free agency, according to Fitzgerald. The Redskins linebacker inked a five-year, $57.5MM extension with the team back in 2015.
  • Fitzgerald imagines that Chiefs safety Eric Berry still wants to be among the highest-paid defenders in the league, but he notes that the 27-year-old hasn’t received the buzz that often accompanies top free agents. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald could see the Chiefs spending to retain defensive tackle Dontari Poe, but he’s uncertain about defensive end Jaye Howard‘s future in Kansas City.
  • Fitzgerald believes the Cowboys should take whatever they can get for quarterback Tony Romo, with the writer referring to the conditional fourth-round pick sent from the Jets to the Packers in the Brett Favre trade. However, even if the team does trade the veteran signal-caller, Fitzgerald says the team’s cap situation will likely prevent them from being major players in free agency.
  • The Giants signed defensive end Olivier Vernon to a five-year, $85MM deal back in March, and Fitzgerald believes teammate Jason Pierre-Paul is likely to make even more money when he reaches free agency this winter. Ultimately, Fitzgerald predicts that the organization will franchise their star defender.

Latest On Talks Between Chiefs, Dontari Poe

Extension talks between the Chiefs and contract-year defensive tackle Dontari Poe “haven’t really gone anywhere,” reports CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who doubts that the two sides will reach an agreement by the start of the regular season (Twitter link). Poe is currently slated to play 2016, his fifth-year option season, on a $6.15MM salary. The Chiefs exercised that option in April 2015.

Dontari Poe

There seemed to be more optimism about an extension for Poe during the winter, with general manager John Dorsey saying in February, “We’ve talked, we’ve talked more than once. I have great affection for Dontari Poe. I think he represents everything we want to do, culturally. I think he’s a good football player. We will continue this process. Right now, I’m concentrating on other things. But eventually, we’ll get to that.”

Poe, who went 11th overall out of Memphis in the 2012 draft, has appeared in 62 of a possible 64 regular-season games with the Chiefs and notched 174 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Thirty-nine of those tackles and only 1.5 of those sacks came last year for Poe, who led Chiefs defensive linemen in snaps (752) and whose overall performance ranked a solid 39th among 132 qualifying interior defenders at Pro Football Focus (subscription required). The lion’s share of the 6-foot-3, 346-pounder’s impact in 2015 came versus the run, against which the Chiefs’ defense finished eighth in yards allowed, 11th in DVOA, and a more middling 16th in yards per carry surrendered.

If the Chiefs and the soon-to-be 26-year-old Poe aren’t able to reach an agreement on a deal by next offseason, the franchise tag would become a realistic option, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap (Twitter link). Kansas City has gone that route before, notes Fitzgerald, with the latest example coming when it tagged safety Eric Berry before free agency this year. Berry still hasn’t signed his franchise tender, though, and could skip all of training camp and the preseason in protest of the Chiefs not signing him to a multiyear pact by the July 15 deadline. With both Poe and Berry unsigned past this season, there’s a chance Kansas City will have to choose between tagging one or the other next winter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Poe, Raiders, Penn, 49ers

The Chiefs have several pressing issues on their docket on the defensive side of the ball, with Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Sean Smith, and Jaye Howard among the defenders facing free agency. However, Kansas City is also exploring the possibility of locking up one of their top contributors whose contract doesn’t expire until 2017.

According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs have spoken to Dontari Poe‘s agent, Jimmy Sexton, about a long-term deal that would keep the standout nose tackle in K.C. for the next several years.

“We’ve talked, we’ve talked more than once,” GM John Dorsey said. “I have great affection for Dontari Poe. I think he represents everything we want to do, culturally. I think he’s a good football player. We will continue this process. Right now, I’m concentrating on other things. But eventually, we’ll get to that.”

Here’s more from around the NFL’s West divisions:

  • The Raiders are expected to be one of the league’s most active teams in free agency, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). That’s no real surprise, since Oakland is one of two clubs in the NFL with more than $70MM in projected cap room. Cole reports that the Raiders have “made it clear to everyone that they’re not going to let money get in the way of getting the players that they want.”
  • Cornerbacks and offensive linemen figure to be atop the Raiders‘ shopping list, according to Cole, who adds that Chargers safety Eric Weddle will be a target for Oakland as well.
  • Armed with all that cap space, the Raiders will prioritize getting a new deal done with offensive tackle Donald Penn, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com adds (via Twitter) that Penn “has a strong market,” and his stock will only improve if the Bills use their franchise tag on Cordy Glenn within the next 24 hours.
  • With the free agent period fast approaching, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter link) expects the 49ers to target mostly offense in March, before shifting to focus on defensive players in the draft.

Extra Points: Dolphins, Wright, Saffold

Dolphins interim head coach Dan Campbell told reporters, including ESPN.com’s James Walker (on Twitter), that he’s talked to Bill Parcells since taking over the job and that he has been a good “resource.” Parcells is said to still have a lot of sway in Miami’s operations, which has led some to speculate that Sean Payton could be a fit for Miami since he once served as his assistant in Dallas.

Here’s more from around the NFL..

  • Earlier this week, Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith heard that Shareece Wright was leaning toward signing with the Seahawks. Smith, not wanting Seattle to beat Baltimore to the punch, put in recruiting call to Wright, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun tweets. Smith joked that he’s the reason the ex-49ers/Chargers corner signed with the Ravens, but it’s possible that he moved the needle. Wright rode the bench in SF and he’s looking to get playing time with his new squad.
  • Former Baylor wide receiver Antwan Goodley worked out for the Giants today, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Rams right guard Rodger Saffold is not expected to return to the playing field soon, if at all this season, a source tells Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe has a high ankle sprain and will likely be out for a few weeks, Adam Teicher of ESPN.com tweets.