Is any Jets player worth retaining on the franchise tag?
It’s that time of year again!
Well, almost at least.
The NFL franchise tag window — when teams can utilize the roster-building tool to provide a certain player a one-year deal for a position-based price — will be open from Feb. 22 until March 8.
Players don’t exactly love the tag — it prohibits them from testing the waters in free agency and keeps their salary for the upcoming season at a fixed value.
But general managers around the league will still exercise this offseason maneuver, just like they do every single year.
Will Jets general manager Joe Douglas do it? Should he place the tag on any of the following soon-to-be free agents?
Note: All 2022 projected franchise tag prices are per Spotrac.
S Marcus Maye
Douglas tagged Marcus Maye last offseason and didn’t ink him to a long-term deal (which would’ve voided the tag) ahead of the season. Thus, Maye played out the 2021 campaign on a one-year deal worth $10.612 million.
If the Jets were to tag him for a second consecutive year, his 2022 salary would be $12.734 million, or 120% of his salary from the previous season.
Now, you might go back and forth on whether you think Joe Douglas should make this move.
I, an intellectual, will not do that.
Why would you drop a $12.734 million annual salary on a safety that will be 29 next season and is coming off a significant Achilles tear? Maye missed 11 games this past year, including the final nine.
Douglas was more willing to trade Jamal Adams and tag Maye (the first time) than sign either safety to a long-term extension. History says Joe may not value the safety position (from a financial standpoint) as much as he does other defensive roles. This could lead to him not tagging Maye (or inking him to a long-term deal, for that matter) in favor of drafting a rookie safety in the early rounds.
WR Jamison Crowder
Jamison Crowder? On a projected $18.5 million-per-year deal?
Douglas had Crowder take a pay cut last year, right? So why do you think the GM would even consider throwing that amount of money toward Jamison, who’s very much a replaceable wide receiver in this offense?
This one is a no-brainer. Joe, please don’t even consider the tag for Crowder.
OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is on the wrong side of 30 years old (will be 32 next season), recorded a low 53.2 Pro Football Focus grade in 2021, and was never meant to be an expensive asset on the offensive line.
Utilizing the projected franchise tag price of $16.5 million on an interior lineman like Laurent would be a waste of a move. Douglas should absolutely save that cap space for alternative needs (like a pass rusher or cornerback depth).
Even with the Jets projected to have $44.73 million in cap space for 2022 (per Spotrac), spending $16.5 million of it on Duvernay-Tardif wouldn’t be a beneficial move.
OT Morgan Moses
The Jets are seemingly set with their pair of starting offensive tackles for next year (just as long as Mekhi Becton stays healthy).
Becton is returning after a 2021 season that was essentially lost due to a knee injury while George Fant is coming off a strong year in which he impressed on the quarterback’s blindside.
It’s unclear which side Becton and Fant will perform on — the left tackle role could play host to a position battle with the loser of that competition heading to the right tackle spot.
But regardless, Becton and Fant are likely the two guys, which means providing a projected $16.5 million to veteran offensive tackle Morgan Moses would be a waste.
However, if Douglas wants to retain Moses on a cheap, short-term deal to be a backup swing tackle given his knowledge of the system and Becton’s injury history, he should do it.
WR Braxton Berrios
To re-sign Braxton Berrios or not to re-sign Braxton Berrios?
That is the main question.
But what isn’t a question is whether the Jets should place the tag on the wide receiver/return specialist, because that would render an “absolutely not” of an answer.
Searching for a reliable return specialist in the later rounds of the draft instead of retaining Berrios for around $9 million per year may be the smart move. Taking this into consideration, and given the franchise tag for receivers is projected to be a whopping $18.5 million, passing on the tag for Berrios is another no-brainer for Douglas.
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