Slowly but surely the NFL offseason will come like a freight train starting with the ability for teams to place the franchise tag on players. That process starts on Tuesday and runs through March 8th giving teams a chance to control players and negotiate long-term deals with less worry another team will snatch them up when the league year opens.
The Cleveland Browns do not seem likely to place a tag on one of their players but it is possible.
The team has rarely used either of the tagging mechanisms set up through the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Either they’ve been able to re-sign their top players or didn’t have anyone worthy of getting tagged. Almost a decade ago, center Alex Mack was given the transition tag, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars but had Cleveland match that offer.
Editors from all the Wire Sites came together to offer up their guesses at all the players that could get tagged starting today. Here is a look at a couple of players that could draw the Browns tagging interest:
TE David Njoku
(AP Photo/David Richard)
The player we chose for the Touchdown Wire piece linked above, Njoku is a unique talent for the Browns. He hasn’t had huge years, often limited by injuries and drops, but has huge upside as a very young player going into his sixth year in the league.
His franchise tag number is also not unreasonable at $10 million. After demanding a trade, firing that agent and stating his desire to stay in Cleveland, Njoku’s free agency could be very interesting if he isn’t tagged by the Browns.
(AP Photo/Nick Cammett)
On the opposite end of the franchise tag cost from tight end is defensive end. While Njoku’s tag number would be second lowest, Clowney’s tag number would fall only behind that of quarterbacks.
Clowney had a very good year for Cleveland in 2021 providing exactly what was needed across from Myles Garrett. Unfortunately, his injury history and wear and tear could make him a huge risk for a long-term deal. Placing a tag on him could jump-start more realistic negotiations but Clowney could also quickly sign a guaranteed $20 million deal for one year as the tag’s tender would be.
Other Free Agents
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Cleveland doesn’t have a ton of other top-level free agents that might deserve the franchise tag but could have a couple that they could use the transition tag on if they want to keep. While unlikely, here are those players:
LB Anthony Walker – A free-agent addition last year, Walker is seen as a great leader and played well when on the field in 2021.
S Ronnie Harrison – After a very good season in 2020 after being acquired in a trade, Harrison struggled in a variety of ways in 2021 including in coverage and some self-control-related penalties. Safety in the NFL is a premium position now so trying to keep Harrison could be interesting.
The remaining free agents Cleveland may want to keep, like MJ Stewart, Malcolm Smith and Takk McKinley, would sign a tag tender almost immediately if one was placed on them.
The Browns seem to have two options to tag this offseason and could do so starting Tuesday. While unlikely, it will be something to watch for the next couple of weeks.