Tagged NFL Players Who Have Not Signed with July 15 Deadline Looming
Early July can be a bit of a dead period in the NFL offseason. The draft has long passed, free-agency activity has slowed considerably, and training camps aren't scheduled to start until the end of the month. For many fans, it may seem like nothing of note goes on in July.
However, there's one date that typically comes in the middle of the month that carries a ton of weight for a few select players: the franchise tag deadline.
This is the point in the league year after which players given the franchise or transition tag can no longer sign a multiyear extension. They either play on the one-year franchise tender or they don't play at all. This can be particularly problematic for players who adamantly refuse to play on the franchise tag—often because of its lack of long-term security.
This year, six of 16 tagged players remain unsigned with just over a week to go before the 2020 deadline (4 p.m. ET on July 15). We'll examine them and their situations here. First, though, a refresher on the other 10 players who were tagged in 2020.
The Tag List
The 10 players who were tagged and who have already signed their tenders are:
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Brandon Scherff, OG, Washington
Leonard Williams, DL, New York Giants
Bud Dupree, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
Joe Thuney, OG, New England Patriots
Matthew Judon, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Anthony Harris, S, Minnesota Vikings
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals (transition tag)
Shaquil Barrett, Edge, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass-rusher Shaquil Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in his first season with the franchise. He also has perhaps the easiest situation to digest of anyone on this list.
Simply put, if Barrett and the Buccaneers don't reach a long-term agreement before the deadline, he will sign the one-year tender and play for Tampa in 2020.
"We're still trying to work something out. The franchise tag, if I don't get nothing done, I'm going to sign that for sure," he said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. "But it's just we're still trying to work to get something done, and we're just going to wait as long as we could to try and get it done."
The Buccaneers ensured that Barrett wouldn't hit the open market by tagging him, and that was the primary goal of the offseason. While getting a long-term deal done now would be ideal, Tampa will likely be content to let him play on that one-year deal.
Considering Barrett produced just 14 sacks in four seasons—technically five, though he didn't play as a rookie—with the Denver Broncos, there's a chance that his 2019 season was a fluke. It will be worth $15.8 million in 2020 for the Buccaneers to find out.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals used the franchise tag on seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green. Though he is 31 years old and coming off a season lost to an ankle injury, doing so made some sense because he can be a premier veteran target for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow.
According to former Green Bay Packers wideout James Jones, Green could possibly even be back to a Pro Bowl level in 2020.
"It's a lot of talented position players on this team for Cincinnati, and A.J. Green is the biggest one," Jones said on NFL Network. "You have them other weapons on the side, so one-on-one coverage for him, and he's going to have a big-time year."
The problem is that Green has yet to sign his franchise tender. There hasn't been much buzz coming out of Cincinnati on his situation, but there's a strong possibility that he wants some long-term security after last year's injury-plagued season.
Seeing as how Green has had just one 1,000-yard campaign in the past three seasons, Cincinnati shouldn't be eager to give him a long-term deal.
Yannick Ngakoue, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue is one of the most unheralded young defenders in the game. The Maryland product has racked up at least eight sacks in each of his four pro seasons, and he could be a defensive centerpiece for any team.
However, he probably isn't going to be a building block for the Jaguars. He was not happy to receive the franchise tag and has publicly lobbied for a trade. As Bleacher Report's Gary Davenport recently explained, a trade is what Jacksonville should consider:
"From the moment Jacksonville slapped the franchise tag on edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, the 25-year-old has made it abundantly clear that not only does he not intend to play under that tag in 2020, but he doesn't want to play another snap with the franchise. After piling up 37.5 sacks over four seasons with the Jaguars, Ngakoue wants out—period."
It doesn't feel like he has any interest in signing a long-term deal or his franchise tender. If the Jaguars are going to get the maximum value out of him, they should trade him with time to spare before the July 15 deadline so that Ngakoue's new employer has a chance to work out that long-term contract.
Chris Jones, DT, Kansas City Chiefs
Defensive tackle Chris Jones is arguably the most important piece of the Kansas City Chiefs defense. After moving from defensive end to the interior, he proved to be a terror for opposing quarterbacks by constantly bringing pressure up the middle. He finished 2019 with nine sacks to go with 36 tackles.
As an end in 2018, he racked up 15.5 sacks.
Unfortunately, Jones and the Chiefs may be headed toward a stalemate. The Mississippi State product recently responded on Twitter to a suggestion from NFL Network's Mike Garafolo that a deal short of $20 million per season might not be enough.
"Or I won't play," Jones tweeted. "Le'Veon Bell told me about this."
Bell famously sat out the 2018 season rather than play on the franchise tag with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he did eventually get his long-term payday from the New York Jets last offseason, his Pro Bowl form never returned.
It would behoove the Chiefs to get a long-term deal done with Jones, though the team may have to get creative to do so. Kansas City has just over $3.5 million in cap space. If a deal cannot be reached, trading Jones ahead of the deadline must be considered.
If the Chiefs allow Jones to sit out in 2020, they risk losing him for nothing next offseason.
Justin Simmons, S, Denver Broncos
Following a strong 2019 season—93 tackles, 15 passes defended, four interceptions—safety Justin Simmons received the franchise tag from the Denver Broncos. The two sides remain active in long-term negotiations.
"We've given them an offer, they gave us an offer back, and so we're in active negotiations with Justin," general manager John Elway said.
If a long-term deal isn't reached before July 15, though, Denver probably doesn't have to worry about losing Simmons for the season. While Yannick Ngakoue and Chris Jones have both suggested they could hold out in 2020, Simmons has given no such indication. In fact, he's been publicly enthusiastic about Broncos quarterback Drew Lock and the coming season.
"That's probably the thing I am most excited about for this season," Simmons told Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe. "I know everyone says it, but he has even in the locker room and behind the camera and closed doors, he has this sense of confidence."
While an extension would bring Simmons and the Broncos some peace of mind, it seems likely that he will play on the tag if he doesn't get one before the deadline.
Markus Golden, Edge, New York Giants
Edge-rusher Markus Golden is in a unique situation in that he wasn't given the franchise tag or the transition tag. Instead, the New York Giants slapped him with an unrestricted-free-agent tender, commonly known as the "May 5" tender.
This tag carries a different deadline and compensation formula than the franchise and transition tags, as Patricia Traina of Forbes recently explained.
"If Golden remains unsigned by July 22 or the start of the first NFL training camp, whichever is later, his rights will revert to the Giants at a 'bargain' cost of 110 percent of what he earned last season minus the $1 million performance bonus he earned for reaching a double-digit sack incentive," Traina wrote.
Essentially, Golden has until July 22 to sign with a different team, or else the only team he can play for in 2020 is New York. The problem for him is that no other teams appear interested, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.
For the Giants, there is nothing to do here but allow Golden's situation to play out.
Contract and cap information via Spotrac.