While the word franchise tag has been thrown around once or twice, so far the young NFL offseason is about speculation. Part of it is how much money soon-to-be free agents quarterbacks are going to cost, with the questions mostly focused on Brock Osweiler and the Denver Broncos, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the New York Jets and Kirk Cousins from the Washington Redskins.
With some teams like the Houston Texans and St. Louis Rams in deep quarterback trouble and a solution not likely to come from the draft, it’s not going too far assuming they’re hoping at least one of the mentioned players doesn’t come to terms with his franchise. Sam Bradford is another name that could come up but the Philadelphia Eagles, unlike the Broncos, Jets and Redskins, have yet to decide whether or not they want to keep him or go in a new direction.
Cousins emerged this season as some the Redskins might put their trust in to lead this franchise in the next few years from the quarterback position, although his ability and production was usually impressive against bad teams, while the Redskins folded against those with a positive record, not to mention their playoff game against the Packers.
This is why Cousins and the Redskins aren’t close to an agreement, which makes us wonder whether or not the Redskins, who’ll have plenty of cap space once Robert Griffin III is released, will get the $19.1 million franchise tag. Cousins seems to be seeking a deal that’s similar to what Ryan Tannehill got from the Dolphins: $19.25 million, although he might go for the low guarantee, high maximum value, like Colin Kaepernick and Andy Dalton got when they renegotiated their deals.
Fitzpatrick had a career season with the Jets but looked bad in the final game of the season against the Bills, with the Jets missing out on the playoffs. Still, they’d like to build on whatever worked in 2015, which means he’ll be offered a new deal, probably a two or three year contract, and seems to be their number one priority, which should mean he doesn’t slip away into the free agency market. Rarely does a quarterback fall there when there’s a will to re-sign him.
As for Osweiler, things are tricky. The Broncos have a lot of expensive re-signings and restructuring to do. Malik Jackson, DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller seem to be more important to them right now than Osweiler, although the franchise tag will probably be used on Miller. Do the Broncos actually believe in Osweiler as their guy for the next few years after what he gave them this season? For now, it seems like their quarterback need is being pushed back to after they deal with their defensive stars looking for big money.