Birds Don’t Play Tag
All Eagles Pending FAs Poised To Hit Market
The NFL’s 4 p.m. deadline to apply the franchise tag and other one-year tags to retain pending free agents came and went Tuesday without the Eagles using their lone mechanism to retain a player who’s headed for the open market.
For the 15 straight year, an Eagles player won’t be performing on the one-year tag that guarantees a player the average of the five highest-paid players at his position.
The team’s decision to refrain means there’s no guarantee the Eagles retain safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, cornerback James Bradberry, defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, running back Miles Sanders or any of their 20 free agents.
An Eagles player hasn’t performed under the tag since tight end L.J. Smith did in 2008. The team prefers to lock up its best players to multi-year extensions or let them leave in free agency to increase their chances of picking up compensatory draft picks.
Several stars around the league, including Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, were kept from hitting free agency via use of the franchise tag. The list including Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Giants running back Saquon Barkley, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Commanders defensive tackle Daron Payne, and Jaguars tight end Evan Engram.
Three running backs receiving the tag benefits Eagles running back Miles Sanders, who stands to be the top money-getter at running back on the free-agent market.
Just because the Eagles didn’t use their tag doesn’t mean they anticipate losing all their pending free agents.
The team can still negotiate contract extensions up through the March 15 start of the new league year – March begins the legal tampering period – and beyond.
Sources told ITB that the Eagles were prioritizing keeping Gardner-Johnson, who came the team via trade in August, switched from nickel corner to safety and shared the NFL lead with six interceptions, but Gardner-Johnson’s true value could complicate the contract discussions.
– Geoff Mosher (@geoffmoshernfl) is co-host of the “Inside the Birds” podcast and staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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