For players picked up in the Draft or through free agency, the new NFL season tends to be a time of much excitement and anticipation.
But for those who go undrafted or are placed on a franchise tag, it can be a period of uncertainty as they wait for the next opportunity to come along. Some will find their way back into the starting roster of their team, and some will absolutely confound their status as a player that had all been written off with their contract coming to an end.
With that in mind, now is as good a time as any ahead of the 2021-22 campaign to take a look at those on the franchise tag who could still play a huge part for their respective teams this term… before considering free agency at the end of the season.
It almost beggars belief that Barrett, a two-time Super Bowl champion and former All-Pro and Pro Bowl pick, almost walked away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Bruce Arians wasn’t going to let that happen, and after putting the franchise tag on Barrett the linebacker in 2020 the star has now agreed to a new four-year contract said to be worth $72 million, with $36 million of that guaranteed. The 28-year-old was a key figure in the Bucs side last term, sacking Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl game and producing an outstanding performance in the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.
Barrett will be a regular feature for his side again, you would imagine, and given that they are amongst the most tipped to win the Super Bowl again in many NFL predictions, we could see an undrafted star get their hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
The Bucs have played a dangerous game by also placing classy wide receiver Chris Godwin on tag!
Despite battling injuries during the 2020-21 campaign, Godwin still picked up 65 catches and powered forward for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in an outstanding regular season. And the 25-year-old showed his true worth during the postseason, receiving 232 yards and crossing the line in Tamp Bay’s run to the Super Bowl.
Godwin has been placed on the non-exclusive tag, which basically means that he can negotiate with other franchises and walk away from the Bucs at the end of the season. But will he want to? The Bucs are fancied in the NFL odds to repeat their successes of the last term.
He’ll pocket a handsome $16 million for his troubles, but will Godwin leave Tampa Bay at the end of 2021-22?
It’s fair to say that the 2020-21 season was one to forget for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won just one of their 16 games played. Nobody comes out of a campaign like that with any pride or dignity, but of the Jags players, it’s Cam Robinson who looks the most likely to kick on and perform at a higher level – albeit he will have been disappointed with his efforts the last term.
All of which makes it rather surprising that the 25-year-old finds himself on a franchise tag, and while the $13.7 million he will earn will act as some crumb of comfort, the fact that he could walk away from Jacksonville next year is still a shock and an almighty risk on the part of his employer.
The franchise tag system can work well, but which of this trio will be heading for pastures new come next season?