The New York Jets possess a number of players on their roster who could receive the franchise tag this offseason.
The franchise tag will be a tricky tool to utilize this year. At the moment, it’s unclear what the NFL’s salary cap total will be, although we do know a $180 million cap floor is present. Given that information, franchise tag projections are in place, but the actual values remain unclear.
It’s certainly all impacted by the financial hardships brought on by a pandemic-impacted 2020 season. Should a team utilize the lone franchise tag it owns starting Tuesday, it’ll need to implement a wise attitude when it comes to making the decision.
The Jets are no exception. While they’re not required to implement a tag, there are multiple options for its usage ahead of the 2021 campaign.
S Marcus Maye
The Jets should look to keep Marcus Maye around and sign him to a long-term deal. He’s proven to be a reliable asset in a secondary that no longer employs Jamal Adams and should be a talented player to build around in the coming years. The Jets possess the cap space to retain him too — Gang Green currently owns over $75 million in space.
But if the Jets can’t come to terms on a long-term deal just yet, the franchise tag could be utilized as a placeholder. Remember: teams can tag a player and still agree to a long-term deal by the middle of July.
The tag would be for a projected amount of $11.2 million (per OverTheCap), but again, the average annual salary could be adjusted into a more manageable total if subsequent contract discussions were to then go smoothly.
If the Jets were to tag Maye, another team could still sign Marcus to a contract; the Jets would receive two first-round picks as compensation if that were to occur. Nonetheless, it’s very much unlikely a team would be willing to give up a pair of first-round picks for someone like Maye.
ILB Neville Hewitt
Neville Hewitt is an additional option for the lone franchise tag. The 28-year-old led the team this past year in combined tackles (134) and solo tackles (91). The next most was 88 and 52, respectively (from Maye).
The $15.7 million projected franchise tag would be expensive, but just like with Maye, it could buy time to figure out a long-term deal should the Jets want to retain Hewitt (and there’s a possibility they do). The defensive-minded Robert Saleh may wish to keep Hewitt and employ an inside linebacker tandem that includes both him and C.J. Mosley, who should be returning after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
And even if a long-term deal isn’t agreed to by July, $15.7 million over one year could be doable for someone like Neville, especially with the cap space the organization currently owns.