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NFL franchise tags: 10 players who won’t get to hit NFL free agency in 2023

NFL franchise tags can now be used by the 32 organizations around the league, and there are at least 10 players likely to be blocked by their current teams from testing their value on the open market.

The NFL franchise tag is a useful tool for teams in the league. It allows them to hold on to a top player at any position for another season, and stop them from hitting free agency. Avoiding a bidding war with rival organizations. It also allows them the chance to have more time to negotiate long-term deals that actually might be more salary cap friendly than current franchise tag rates.

Like every offseason, there are a plethora of elite-level players that are pending free agents who will have tags slapped on them during the allowed period from Feb. 21 to March 7. Let’s take a look at 10 stars likely to have an NFL franchise tag placed on them and won’t be hitting NFL free agency after March 15.

Related: Bold predictions for 2023 NFL free agency – Destinations for top 50 players

Below you can find the expected franchise tag value for each position in 2023:

  • Quarterback: $32,416,000
  • Running back: $10,091,000
  • Receiver: $19,743,000
  • Tight end: $11,345,000
  • Offensive line: $18,244,000
  • Defensive end: $19,727,000
  • Defensive tackle: $18,937,000
  • Linebacker: $20,926,000
  • Cornerback: $18,140,000
  • Safety: $14,460,000
  • Kicker/punter: $5,393,000

Lamar Jackson

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Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Lamar Jackson is by far, the player most likely to be slapped with an NFL franchise tag soon. He is the most important player on the Baltimore Ravens roster and replacing a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback who already has an NFL MVP on their resume could be an impossible task for the team. Jackson reportedly wants record money and guarantees, so there is a very real chance he could still be on another team next season. But until then the Ravens will definitely tag him and hope they can finally bridge the six-figure money gap in negotiations.

Daniel Jones

Heading into the offseason, it seemed as if the New York Giants were more likely to use their 2023 NFL franchise tag on running back Saquon Barkley and reach a long-term deal with their QB Daniel Jones. However, new reports suggest Jones could be looking for as much as $45 million next season. Meaning the Giants slapping the $32 million QB tag on Jones would be a bargain route they have to take to get back to the playoffs in 2023.

Jordan Poyer

While the NFL franchise tags for QBs, linebackers, and defensive ends can be pricey, there are some rates that are a bit more palatable. Like the $14 million that goes to safeties and will likely be used by the Buffalo Bills on two-time Pro-Bowler Jordan Poyer. Both Poyer and talented LB Tremaine Edmunds are free agents and the team will need to tag one of them. Poyer could be the more likely and affordable option.

Jessie Bates III

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Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals have a tough decision on if they should tag safety Jessie Bates III for a second straight offseason. Which would mean earning 120% of his 2022 salary and a raise over the normal tag rates for the position. A case could be made to let him walk, re-sign Vonn Bell, and go with 2022 rookie Dax Hill in the back of the secondary. However, Bates III is too important of a player to let walk for a $15 million payday when long-term contract talks are still possible.

Geno Smith

Geno Smith had an unbelievable season for the Seattle Seahawks in 2022. He won “Comeback Player of the Year” with a performance that made the Seahawks faithful quickly forget about trading team legend Russell Wilson. Smith leads a high-powered offense and playoff team and is likely to re-sign with Seattle. But the team won’t take any chances of letting him hit the market while they negotiate a long-term pact.

Daron Payne

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Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After several seasons where it seemed like Daron Payne would not reach his first-round pick potential with the Washington Commanders, he had a breakout season in 2022, as he racked up 11.5 sacks and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. After becoming an anchor on a solid defense last season, Washington won’t let the 25-year-old walk and will hope this season was year one in a dominant run in DC for seasons to come.

Orlando Brown

For a second straight season, you can bet on the Kansas City Chiefs placing an NFL franchise tag on superstar offensive lineman Orlando Brown. As much as it would be nice to get NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes more weapons, keeping him healthy and upright is a higher priority each season and no player is more important in that than Brown. The $18.2 million tag will be money very well spent for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Josh Jacobs

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Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Jacobs had a career year in 2022 for the Las Vegas Raiders. In a season where the offense was very frustrating, the star running back was the most reliable option they had. The All-Pro is ready to hit NFL free agency and cash in with his first big contract, but he will, unfortunately, have to settle for the $10 million running back franchise tag rate because Las Vegas will desperately need him in 2023 with their QB situation next season unclear.

Tony Pollard

Like Jacobs, Tony Pollard had his best season as a professional this season. The 25-year-old earned Pro Bowl honors and gave the team a vision of life after Ezekiel Elliot, and it looked pretty good. With Elliot also set to be a free agent, the Cowboys must keep one of the two, and Pollard is the obvious choice now and long term. Look for the team to try and work out a multi-year deal with Pollard before the July deadline.

Dalton Schultz

If the Cowboys are able to come to terms with Pollard on a new contract before the end of the NFL franchise tag period, the organization could instead use the tag on talented tight end Dalton Schultz. While his numbers may not jump off the page, he was still a very valuable weapon for the offense in 2022, especially in the red zone. Furthermore, at 26, there is a belief we have still not seen the best version of Schultz and he has the upside to make the $11.3 million tight-end rate seem like a bargain.