Kawann Short

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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Panthers HC: Short Will “Probably” Be Tagged

Kawann Short is scheduled for free agency, but the odds are not in favor of him actually getting there. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera admits the Panthers “probably will have to tag” him, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Since making those comments on ESPN, Rivera has clarified his comments, saying only that the tag is an option, not necessarily imminent (Twitter link via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer). Kawann Short

However, my feeling is that this a matter of semantics. The Panthers have likely already huddled up and decided that they will not let Short get near free agency. That means a franchise tag is in Short’s future if a long-term pact cannot be reached.

[RELATED: PFR’s NFL Free Agent Power Rankings]

Short is ranked No. 3 on PFR’s most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings. Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Short is on record as saying he’s okay with signing the franchise tender.

Short, who turns 28 today, was the third-best interior defender in the league this season, per Pro Football Focus, and his 87.7 overall score was roughly in line with his 2015 mark, even though he had five less sacks. By PFF’s metrics, only defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell ranked ahead of Short in 2016.

Thanks to the deals signed last summer by Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson, Short’s asking price has likely increased. Carolina would probably like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year on a multi-year deal, but it might take an AAV of ~$17MM or more to get something done based on how the market looks now.

Placing the franchise tag on Short should cost Carolina approximately $13.468MM in 2017.

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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Extra Points: Panthers, Ravens, Saints, Pats

Unlike former teammate Josh Norman, Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short won’t have any problem signing the franchise tender if the team tags him, he told the Associated Press. “I wouldn’t fight it or anything,” said Short, who was unable to reach a long-term deal with the Panthers last offseason. On Norman, whom Carolina let go last April after he wouldn’t sign the tender, Short commented, “Me and Josh are not the same. … He could have stayed here if he wanted to. He could have (signed) the franchise tag.” The durable Short just wrapped up his fourth straight 16-game season, one in which the 27-year-old ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best interior defender and totaled six sacks. Placing the franchise tag on Short should cost Carolina approximately $13.468MM in 2017.

More from around the NFL:

  • It appears soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Kamar Aiken‘s third season with the Ravens will go down as his last. “Probably, it’s been the most frustrating year I’ve ever had since I’ve been in the league,” Aiken said of 2016 (via Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun). “I would say I was proud of how I handled it.” Aiken was a key piece in the Ravens’ 2015 offense with 127 targets, 75 catches, 944 yards and five touchdowns, but his numbers dropped precipitously this season. In 16 games and six starts (eight fewer than he logged the prior year), Aiken accumulated 50 targets, 29 receptions, 328 yards and only one score. He spoke to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg during the season about an expanded role, but nothing came of it. Mornhinweg will return to the Ravens next season, which seemingly increases the likelihood of an Aiken departure. The 27-year-old revealed that he’s “looking forward to” hitting the open market.
  • Defensive tackle Nick Fairley took a cheap deal with the Saints last July and proved to be a steal in 2016, starting in all 16 of their games and amassing 43 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Fairley is now facing free agency for the third straight offseason, but he’d rather stay with the Saints than test the market. “I think I played my most consistent ball this year. I just feel like it’s the right fit for me,” Fairley told Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. The 28-year-old Fairley, a former Lion and Ram, finished as PFF’s 33rd-ranked interior defender this season.
  • As is the case with Fairley, cornerback Sterling Moore was an effective buy-low defender with the Saints this season. Now, like Fairley, Moore wants to re-sign with the club, he informed Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. “I see myself growing with these guys and just doing something special, so I don’t look at myself necessarily as a free agent even though my contract is coming to an end. I have full intentions on coming back,” said Moore, who made $760K in 2016. The early September signing set career highs in starts (12), tackles (56) and interceptions (two), and PFF rated him 67th among 120 qualified corners.
  • The Patriots worked out a pair of free agents – tight end Rob Housler and cornerback Tharold Simon – on Tuesday, tweets Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. New England didn’t sign either, but the team could keep the veterans in mind as emergency options in the playoffs or circle back to them in the offseason, notes Reiss.

Panthers, Kawann Short Still Talking

It appears that we may have a positive development in the contract talks between the Panthers and defensive tackle Kawann Short. Panthers GM Dave Gettleman says that the team is still talking to Short about an extension, despite previous word that things had stalled (via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer). Kawann Short

Short has been working on a new pact with Carolina for some time now. This offseason, Short’s asking price likely went up when Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson cashed in with their respective teams. Carolina would like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year, but it will probably take an AAV of ~$17MM to get something done based on how the market looks now.

The 27-year-old Short broke out last season, his third in the NFL, in leading the NFC champions’ top-tier defense in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (three). Short, who turned in his first 16-start campaign, also graded eighth in overall performance among Pro Football Focus’ 123 qualified interior defensive linemen. By any measure, he was in the same class as Wilkerson and Cox and other elite defensive linemen in 2015.

Short is set to make just over $1MM this season, the final year on his rookie deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Panthers, Kawann Short

Panthers defensive tackle Kawann Short revealed Wednesday that he and the team aren’t progressing toward a contract extension, telling Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer, “No update as of right now. We’re still taking the time. We still have until the regular season starts, so hopefully we’ll have a decision by then.”

Short does seem optimistic about him and the Panthers reaching a deal, though, despite a report two weeks ago that stated talks between the two sides were “effectively dead.”

Kawann Short

“I feel good about it. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I still have to come out here and play no matter the situation,” said Short.

Whether by the regular season or sometime before free agency next winter, head coach Ron Rivera expects Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman to lock up Short.

“Somewhere along the line they’ll get together and they’ll figure it out,” said Rivera. “He’s too important a player for us, and KK likes where he is. We’ll see how it all unfolds.”

For Rivera’s hope to become a reality, the likelihood is that the Panthers will have to markedly increase their offer. As Jones notes, Carolina would like to re-up Short at roughly $15MM per year. However, considering what fellow standout defensive linemen Fletcher Cox (Eagles) and Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) signed for earlier this summer, it might take in the $17MM annual range for a Short deal to come to fruition. Cox, Pro Football Focus’ 10th-ranked interior defensive lineman last season, landed a six-year, $103MM extension featuring upward of $55MM in guarantees in June. A month later, Wilkerson – No. 11 on PFF’s list – secured a five-year, $86MM pact with $53.5MM guaranteed for injury.

Short fared similarly to both Cox and Wilkerson in 2015, when he started all of NFC champion Carolina’s games and rated as PFF’s eighth-best interior D-lineman. Along the way, Short led the Panthers’ defense in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (three). That represented a breakout for Short, a 2013 second-round pick from Purdue who combined for nine starts, five sacks and two forced fumbles during his first two seasons.

In the event the Panthers and Short don’t find common ground by next winter, the club would have the option of retaining his rights via the franchise tag. The current cost to tag D-tackles is $13.651MM, which should increase. Nevertheless, something in that neighborhood would be a reasonable sum for Short if he continues serving as a dominant force in the middle of Carolina’s defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Talks Between Panthers, K. Short Break Down

Any hope the Panthers had of signing defensive tackle Kawann Short to a contract extension extension before the season is all but gone, reports Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. The two sides were negotiating a new deal for Short, which general manager Dave Gettleman acknowledged two weeks ago, but those talks haven’t led anywhere and are “effectively dead,” tweets La Canfora.

Kawann Short

The 27-year-old Short broke out last season, his third in the NFL, in leading the NFC champions’ top-tier defense in sacks (11) and forced fumbles (three). Short, who experienced his first 16-start campaign, also graded eighth in overall performance among Pro Football Focus’ 123 qualified interior defensive linemen (subscription required).

PFF’s 10th-ranked interior D-lineman, the Eagles’ Fletcher Cox, landed a six-year, $103MM extension featuring upward of $55MM in guarantees in June. A month later, the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson – No. 11 on the list – secured a five-year, $86MM pact with $53.5MM guaranteed for injury. Short is likely looking for money in a similar neighborhood to those two, and the 6-foot-3, 299-pounder made his dissatisfaction with his contract situation known when he skipped organized team activities in June. However, Short has attended the club’s functions since then and now looks primed to play 2016 for a relative pittance (just over $1MM).

If the Panthers want to retain Short after the season but aren’t able reach a deal with him before free agency opens, the franchise tag would be a likely option. The current cost to tag D-tackles is $13.651MM, and as of late July, Gettleman was reportedly willing to sign Short to an accord worth around $15MM per year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract-Year Rumors: Brees, Short, Berry

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis confirmed Wednesday that the team and contract-year quarterback Drew Brees have not made any progress toward a long-term deal, though Loomis added that he’s open to discussions, according to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Brees revealed last week that the two sides last exchanged offers in March. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer is set to count an NFL-leading $30MM against the Saints’ cap this year, and he’ll also rake in the league’s second-highest QB salary ($19.75MM).

If the Saints don’t sign Brees by the start of the regular season, which is the deadline the 16th-year man has set, retaining him in the offseason could be difficult. Because Brees has already been a franchise-tag recipient twice, it would cost the Saints $43.2MM to tag him in 2017, notes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. With the tag an unlikely option, free agency will become a realistic route for Brees to take if he and the Saints don’t work something out over the next several weeks.

More of the latest regarding high-profile players with unsettled contract situations:

  • Unlike New Orleans and Brees, the NFC South rival Panthers and defensive tackle Kawann Short are engaged in extension talks, GM Dave Gettleman said Wednesday (via David Newton of ESPN.com). Short has expressed dissatisfaction this offseason with his current deal, one that will pay him just over $1MM in base salary in 2016, after he led the Panthers in sacks and forced fumbles last year, and ranked eighth among 123 qualifying interior defenders at Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Fellow D-line standouts like Fletcher Cox and Muhammad Wilkerson have scored sizable deals in recent weeks, and it’s fair to say the 27-year-old Short could look to those pacts as comparables for his next contract. However, while Cox and Wilkerson will average upward of $17MM a year, Gettleman wasn’t willing to go much higher than $15MM per year as of earlier this month.
  • Unhappy with his current status, Chiefs safety Eric Berry is set to skip most or all of the preseason, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star). Doing that won’t increase the leverage of Berry, whose only options are to sign his $10.8MM franchise tender at some point or continue sitting out. The Chiefs failed to sign the four-time Pro Bowler to a multiyear deal by the July 15 deadline for tag recipients, meaning the two won’t be able to negotiate again until the end of the season. Because Berry isn’t under contract, he’d be able to avoid showing up for of camp and the preseason without facing fines from the Chiefs. Indeed, the 27-year-old looks primed to take advantage of that.
  • The Broncos and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders remain in discussions about a new deal, GM John Elway stated Wednesday (Twitter link via Troy Renck of Denver7). The reigning Super Bowl champions would like to lock Sanders up before the season, according to Elway, who said in June that extending Sanders and two of his teammates – linebackers Von Miller and Brandon Marshall – by mid-July would be “ideal.” Denver has since secured Miller and Marshall, leaving the 29-year-old Sanders as the lone straggler of the group.
  • In the biggest news of the day, the Jets and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick finally ended their squabble over a contract.

Free Agency Notes: Beatty, Welker, Kuhn, 2017

The latest on a few NFL veterans who are currently without contracts and a look ahead to the 2017 class of free agents:

  • Eugene Monroe’s retirement is a significant blow to teams that need offensive tackles, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, who regards Will Beatty as the best one remaining on the market. Beatty, 31, has 63 starts on his resume, but he missed 2015 with a torn pectoral muscle and the Giants then released him in February.
  • In an interview with SiriusXM (Twitter link) on Friday, receiver Wes Welker reiterated that he has not retired. After catching 13 passes for 102 yards in eight games with the Rams in 2015, the 35-year-old has gone back and forth on the state of his career several times this offseason.
  • Fullback John Kuhn told SiriusXM on Friday that he continues to work out and wait for someone to call him with an offer, and he hopes the Packers are that team (Twitter link). Kuhn spent 2007-15 in Green Bay, made four Pro Bowls – including earning a Hawaii trip the past two years – and totaled 30 touchdowns between the regular season and playoffs. The 33-year-old appeared in 26.6 percent of the Packers’ offensive snaps and 34.7 percent of their special teams plays in 2015.
  • In a class that could also feature the likes of Drew Brees, Tyrann Mathieu, Jamie Collins, Le’Veon Bell, Eric Berry and Alshon Jeffery, among other household names, the best prospective 2017 free agent is Panthers defensive lineman Kawann Short, opines John Clayton of ESPN.com (Insider required). Short has expressed dissatisfaction this offseason with his current deal, one that will pay him just over $1MM in base salary in 2016, but Clayton expects the 315-pounder to land a $100MM-plus payday next year – if the Panthers don’t franchise tag him, that is. The three-year veteran led the Panthers in sacks (11), forced three fumbles and ranked a stellar eighth among 123 qualifying interior defenders at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) last season.

Zach Links contributed to this post.