Trumaine Johnson

Ingram, Johnson To Be Franchise Tagged?

Melvin Ingram and Trumaine Johnson are among the players expected to be franchise tagged between now and March 1, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Schefter also lists Kirk Cousins, Le’Veon Bell, Kawann Short as guys who are likely to get the tag. Melvin Ingram (vertical)

While Cousins, Bell, and Short have long been seen as likely franchise candidates, things were less certain when it came to California’s two top free agents. Ingram has racked up 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons, but the Chargers have lots of holes to fill and some believed that the team would direct those resources elsewhere. Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off of a so-so season and the Rams will have to pay a surcharge in order to tag him for a second time.

It’s likely that the latest salary cap projection is playing a role in the decisions. It now sounds like the cap will land somewhere between $166MM and $169MM, up from $155.27MM last year. The one-year franchise tenders are expensive, but they are easier to swallow now that all 32 teams will have a little extra room to work with.

Our most recent edition of the Free Agent Power Rankings had Ingram as the fourth-best free agent on the board. Johnson was outside of the Top 10 but earned honorable mention.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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2017 NFL Franchise Tag Candidates

ZachLinks_2017NFL_FranchiseCand_1080

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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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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Rams GM Les Snead Discusses McVay, Goff, Offseason

It’s already been a busy offseason for the Rams, as the front office made a number of coaching moves that should bring some excitement to Los Angeles. The organization didn’t only make Sean McVay the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, but they also added Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator.

Les SneadOf course, general manager Les Snead‘s job isn’t done. There are plenty of question marks when it comes to next year’s roster, and the executive will start solidifying his squad in the coming weeks.

In anticipation of the offseason, Snead sat down with Gary Klein of The Los Angeles Times. The executive discussed his new head coach, his plan for the offseason, and former number-one pick Jared Goff. The whole interview is worth reading, but we grabbed some notable quotes below…

On how it’s been working with Sean McVay:

“Exciting, because you see the young head coach but you also see him bring this unbelievable energy and passion to the job with that thought of how he wants to put together his staff and the puzzle there and what he’s trying to accomplish. … You’re working together to problem-solve, come up with solutions, come up with decisions and try to come up with what’s best for the Rams…. You can feel the chemistry developing based on just rolling up your sleeves and going to work and making your first decisions together.”

On his expectation for quarterback Jared Goff, last year’s first-overall pick:

“What he went through is only going to be positive in the future. It goes back to experience. … He knows what it’s like now. … What you got back is a very poised player — and adversity doesn’t rattle him. … Looking forward to seeing him grow because he’s felt and seen Sean come in and implement his offense, and Sean is really big on the quarterback. Jared’s chomping at the bit.”

On the team’s team-building strategy heading into the draft and free agency:

“I don’t know if I want to tell you exactly because it might tip hands, but I think philosophically I can tell you it’s probably, duh, right? We’ve got to figure out how to improve the offense and how that looks and what position groups you start attacking first. We want to move the ball, we want to get first downs and we want to score points. That’s going to be addressed at all angles.”

On how the team is going to approach their wideout depth (Kenny Britt and Brian Quick are set to hit free agency):

“It’s interesting with the receiving group because we already know a good bit about what Sean would like in his receivers. They’ve been described many times like a basketball team. And what that means is you probably don’t field five point guards, five shooting guards. …. With our pending UFAs I think it’s very safe to say we’ve got to sit down with the offensive group and see what they bring to the table and do they exactly fit us with the guys that are already on the team.”

On the status of cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who was slapped with the franchise tag last offseason:

“That will be a big decision. Wade, like a lot of [defensive coordinators], likes good players on the outside. Trumaine fits that category…. Trumaine is a larger guy with good ball skills and all things like that. Is it a square in a square, a triangle in a triangle or more a rectangle in a square? … That’s probably one of the top priorities when Wade walks in the door because, obviously, the magnitude of what his contract will look like and the magnitude of what another franchise tag looks like and everything in between.”

NFC Notes: Rams, Buccaneers, Lions, Giants

While Rams head coach Sean McVay is considered to be one of the brightest young minds in the business, some league executives believes it will take several seasons before his skills are reflected on the field.

“That’s a big bite at [30 years old],” one executive said (via Yahoo’s Charles Robinson on Twitter). “Recent coaches who have been that young, they clearly weren’t ready for it – situations that seemed to come down to experience issues and maturity issues [with the coaches]. I don’t know [McVay] well enough to say whether that would be a concern. It’s just a lot for anyone, even the most experienced coaches.”

As Robinson notes, McVay has done an admirable job of surrounding himself with an experienced veteran staff. Longtime coaches Wade Phillips and Joe Barry should help McVay get acclimated to his new role.

Let’s take a look at some other notes coming out of the NFC…

  • Robinson tweets that there were rumblings that the Rams would let “[Jeff] Fisher guys,” including wideout Kenny Britt and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, hit free agency. However, Robinson notes that the mindset may have changed following the hiring of McVay as head coach and Phillips as defensive coordinator.
  • About two weeks ago, the Buccaneers signed running back Blake Sims to a reserve/futures contract. Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that the league disapproved the player’s original two-year contract. The team ultimately inked the running back to a three-year contract, and Auman notes that the change is purely “semantics.”
  • Lions quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan is a “future coordinator to watch,” tweets Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com. The reporter adds that the organization has blocked Callahan from taking at least one interview with another team. Prior to his tenure in Detroit, Callahan spent six years with the Broncos.
  • Giants defensive end Owa Odighizuwa is entering a “do-or-die offseason,” writes Dan Duggan of NJ.com. The former third-rounder still hasn’t established himself as a reliable rotation player, compiling only six tackles in 18 career games. The 24-year-old understands that he’ll have to work ever harder if he wants to stick around. “It’s real important for me,” Odighizuwa said. “That’s how I’m approaching it, that it’s kind of do-or-die in terms of my preparation and getting ready. You have to exhaust all of your resources into training properly and getting ready for the year. Really pouring everything you have into preparation.” Odighizuwa has two years remaining on his contract, but the Giants would only be left with $370K in dead cap if they cut the defensive end loose.

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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NFL Franchise Tag Contract Deadline Primer

**Updated Friday morning, 10:12am CT**

This afternoon, we’ll know the fates of seven franchise-tagged players for the 2016 season and beyond. If their respective teams do not sign them to long-term contracts by 4pm ET/3pm CT, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker will all play out the 2016 season on their one-year franchise tenders.

Will some of these players will reach lucrative multi-year deals between now and Friday afternoon? Or could we see all seven players nudged towards free agency in 2017? Here’s a complete rundown of what’s happening with each of these seven players as the deadline approaches:

Franchise Tag With Text (vertical)

Von Miller, Broncos

This offseason, Von Miller went from Dancing With The Stars to wrestling with the Broncos. Naturally, there is strong mutual interest in a new multi-year deal between Denver and the reigning Super Bowl MVP and the two sides even seem to have agreed upon terms of about $114.5MM over six years. However, there remains a significant gulf between the two sides when it comes to guaranteed money and cashflow in the first couple of years. As we’ve seen before, NFL contract terms are often not what they appear to be on the surface. In this league, you can be promised a small fortune, but it doesn’t mean much unless a significant portion of it is guaranteed and comes early on in the deal when the team values you most. Von Miller (vertical)

Back in June, the Broncos offered up a six-year, $114.5MM deal with nearly $40MM guaranteed in the first two years. However, Miller wanted more in the way of guaranteed cash and wanted a higher payout in the first three years. Soon after, Miller doubled down on his threat to hold out in 2016 if he does not get the multi-year deal that he is after and his teammates say that he’s not bluffing. Would one of the league’s best defensive players and fiercest competitors really stay home all year long rather than chase another ring and earn more than $14MM? It’s hard to imagine, but there’s also considerable incentive for Miller to stick to his guns in this situation.

If Miller opts to sit out the 2016 season, the Broncos will only be able to use the non-exclusive franchise tag on him and will not have the exclusive franchise tag at their disposal. Typically, a team that is able to pry a player away on the non-exclusive tag would have to forfeit two first-round picks to the former team. However, per the terms of the CBA, the compensation price would drop from two first-round picks to a first and a third if Miller were to sit out. Some teams would consider forfeiting two first-round choices to land Miller and even more teams would mull it over if that price drops to a first- and third-round choice.

Reportedly, Miller still harbors resentment towards the Broncos for the way that talks have gone this offseason. However, things could be changing now that Denver has updated their offer to give Miller $70MM in “solid guarantees.”

Because of Miller’s holdout threat, there’s arguably more at stake for the Broncos than the other six teams negotiating with their franchise-tagged stars.

Kirk Cousins, Redskins

After a breakout 2015 season, Kirk Cousins wants to be paid like a top NFL quarterback. The Redskins, meanwhile, want to see him do it all over again in 2016 before committing major dollars to him across a five or six-year period.

Kirk Cousins (Vertical)After watching Brock Osweiler go from backup to baller this offseason, Cousins’ camp is salivating at his potential payday on the open market. For Cousins to forego a shot at free agency down the line, his agents are demanding $43.89MM in guarantees over the first two years of the pact, for starters. Wonder where that number comes from? That’s the combined value of the 2016 franchise tag ($19.95MM) and the franchise tag in 2017 ($23.94MM), if the Redskins were to use it again. If Washington wanted to go for an unprecedented three-peat of franchise tags, it would cost them $34.47MM (!) in 2018.

Cousins earned just $660K in 2015, making him one of the league’s very best values last year. Now, he’s looking to cash in on his next deal and he’s made it clear that he’s willing to bet on himself in 2016. As of this writing, the two sides are not expected to come to an accord by Friday afternoon.

Alshon Jeffery, Bears

Alshon Jeffery is regarded as one of the league’s top wide receivers – when he’s healthy. That’s likely the sticking point for the Bears, who want to see the 26-year-old give them a complete season before they give him enough money to buy his own private island. The 6’3″, 216-pound receiver missed six games during his rookie season because of hand and knee injuries. Last year, he sat out seven contests due to calf, hamstring, groin, and shoulder ailments. Alshon Jeffery (Vertical)

However, despite missing a good chunk of the 2016 season, Jeffery still racked up 54 catches for 807 yards and four touchdowns. Since his breakout campaign in 2013, the former second-round pick has averaged 89 receptions, 1,312 yards, and eight touchdowns per 16 games. Jeffery might not have a perfect attendance record, but he is a true game-changer when he is on the field.

Right now, it doesn’t sound like the Bears are going to get a deal done with Jeffery. GM Ryan Pace doesn’t have any qualms about moving on from players of the past regime and he could theoretically allow Jeffery to walk thanks to the presence of Kevin White.

Continue reading about the rest of this year’s franchise-tagged stars:

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Deals Still Unlikely For Cousins, Johnson

The impending deadline for extensions seems to be bringing the Broncos and Von Miller closer together, but that’s not the case for other franchise-tagged stars. As of this morning, there is still no movement between the Redskins and Kirk Cousins on a long-term deal, according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post (on Twitter). Same goes for the Rams and cornerback Trumaine Johnson, says Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link). Kirk Cousins (vertical)

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In the case of Johnson, La Canfora notes that the two sides spoke on Thursday night, but the Rams and the cornerback’s camp are still very far apart on terms. That jibes with everything we’ve been hearing about the talks over the last couple of months. For those who haven’t been following along, the CliffsNotes version goes something like this: after seeing ex-teammate Janoris Jenkins get megabucks from the Giants, Johnson wants at least that much to forego his opportunity at free agency. The Rams, meanwhile, are not yet willing to give Jenkins a top cornerback’s AAV over the course of a long-term deal. Without a deal, Jenkins will play out the 2016 season under the $13.952MM tender, making him the fifth-highest paid CB in the NFL this year.

Cousins and the Redskins have also been far apart on terms and, like Johnson and the Rams, the two sides have been haggling without getting ugly. The Redskins would love to lock up Cousins, but the quarterback is willing to bet on himself and he sees a repeat of the franchise tag in 2017 (and maybe 2018) as his floor. To forego a turn on the open market, Cousins’ camp is looking for those tender amounts to be fully guaranteed in a long-term deal and, as of this writing, Daniel Snyder & Co. have been unwilling to go that far.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Franchise-Tagged Players

Barring an unlikely change in momentum, extensions are not expected to be reached for franchise-tagged players Kirk Cousins, Eric Berry, Alshon Jeffery, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Trumaine Johnson, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Schefter’s latest word echoes other reports on these five players, but two names are conspicuously absent from this list: Von Miller and Justin Tucker. It’s not clear if the Broncos and Ravens are on the cusp of deals with their respective franchise-tagged stars, but their odds of reaching deals could be looking better than the rest of the pack at this time.

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver BroncosAs Mike Florio of PFT notes, things have been eerily quiet when it comes to Miller and the Broncos, which could be an indication that talks are moving along behind the scenes. In recent weeks, the acrimony between the two sides has been leaking out to the press, so this recent lack of news could be taken as good news when it comes to these contract talks.

The Broncos could theoretically trade Miller if they are unable to reach a long-term deal with him in the next day or so, but the team is focused only on retaining him. Meanwhile, Miller’s threat to sit out the 2016 season reportedly remains “very real” and several teammates believe that he will spend the year at home if he does not get his way. Late last week, the Broncos improved their offer to Miller, giving him more in the way of guarantees and better cashflow in the early part of the deal. Those are the key issues left to resolve as the two sides have largely agreed on the framework of a six-year, $114.5MM deal.

As the Ravens franchise player, Tucker will make $4.572MM this year if he and the team don’t agree to a new contract by tomorrow’s deadline. Some believe that the two sides haven’t struck a deal yet because Tucker is likely looking to eclipse the Patriots’ Stephen Gostkowski as the NFL’s highest-paid kicker.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.