NY Jets: 3 free agent targets who will probably get franchise tagged
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets will be eyeing a number of high-profile free agents in the offseason, but these three players may never actually hit the open market.
The NY Jets will have the resources to make a number of high-profile moves this offseason. Whether that will come in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft, expect the Jets to make some splashes over the next couple of months.
With over $50 million in cap space — and more expected once cuts are made — the Jets should have plenty of money to spend come free agency. And fortunately, it seems to be a pretty deep free-agent class.
Players like Byron Jones, Jack Conklin, and Jadeveon Clowney highlight a long list of high-profile free agents who could be targets for the Jets. However, not every expected free agent will actually hit the open market.
Every year we see teams fail to reach an agreement to re-sign certain players and rather than let them hit free agency, they opt to use the franchise tag on them.
Expect this year to be no different with numerous star players projected to be tagged prior to the start of free agency — some of which could be possible targets for Gang Green.
Here are three Jets free-agent targets who are unlikely to make it to free agency.
Next: 3. Shaquil Barrett
3. Shaquil Barrett, EDGE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got one of the steals of free agency last offseason when they signed former Denver Broncos pass rusher Shaquil Barrett to a one-year, $5 million deal.
After accumulating 14.0 sacks over the first five seasons of his career, Barrett put together one of the most surprising seasons in recent NFL history finishing with a staggering, league-leading 19.5 sacks.
It was a remarkable turnaround for a player who had been nothing more than a situational pass rusher with his previous team. As one would expect, Barrett is due to make a lot more than just $5 million this offseason.
But the Buccaneers are playing it cautious with their breakout star and aren’t expected to sign him to a long-term deal. Instead, they’re reportedly prepared to franchise tag him and see if he can replicate his success in 2020.
This makes sense given that it would be foolish for the team to just let him walk after a near-20-sack season. However, it also makes sense that they aren’t fully committed to handing him a long-term deal after just one year of success — albeit superstar-level success.
The Jets would love to add a player like Barrett — a true difference-maker on the edge. But they’ll likely have to look elsewhere to upgrade their pass rush as it’s highly unlikely that Barrett actually hits the open market.
Next: 2. Amari Cooper
2. Amari Cooper, WR
The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in one of the toughest cap situations out of any team this offseason. With the likes of Dak Prescott, Byron Jones, and Amari Cooper all on expiring contracts, Dallas is having a hard time deciding how to allocate their resources.
There’s no chance that the team lets Prescott go, but negotiations on an extension have stalled. Jones is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, but they may not be able to afford to keep him around.
And then there’s Cooper who the Cowboys desperately want to re-sign. However, while extension talks have heated up again, the two sides aren’t exactly close to a deal.
First things first, it seems inevitable that the Cowboys are going to place the franchise tag on Prescott. There appears to be no long-term deal in the works at the moment and they aren’t about to let their quarterback hit the open market.
But just because they’ll be tagging Prescott doesn’t mean that they can’t do something similar with Cooper.
There have been reports that the Cowboys could look to franchise tag Prescott and place the lesser-known transition tag on Cooper. This is only possible if a new collective bargaining agreement is not ratified before the franchise/transition deadline which is March 12th.
It’s looking increasingly unlikely that a new CBA will be agreed to by then meaning that Cooper getting the transition tag looks much more likely now.
Cooper might be out of play for the Jets, but Byron Jones could be right in their wheelhouse.
Next: 1. Brandon Scherff
1. Brandon Scherff, OG
The Jets are going to do everything they can to upgrade the offensive line in the offseason and that will include making some splashes in free agency. Unfortunately, perhaps the biggest name on the market might not be available after all.
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Reports have surfaced recently that the Washington Redskins are expected to place the franchise tag on superstar guard Brandon Scherff. Scherff has made three Pro Bowls in five NFL seasons and despite dealing with injury trouble is one of the best guards in the NFL today.
That said, all reports seem to indicate that he won’t actually make it to the open market.
The Redskins want him to be in Washington for his entire career, but a long-term deal hasn’t been reached. Expect the organization to give themselves a bit more time by tagging Scherff and keeping him around for at least another yeat.
The Jets will have to pivot to other notable offensive linemen that will be free agents such as Jack Conklin, Joe Thuney, Graham Glasgow, and Connor McGovern.
There will still be options out there, but Jets fans envisioning a future with Scherff in green and white should start to rethink their visions.
Washington isn’t going to let him walk and the Jets will unfortunately miss out on a very talented player as a result.