Friday's deadline for franchise tagged players to sign long-term contracts with their teams has passed, and there were a couple surprises in the end. Ten players were tagged prior to NFL free agency in 2016, including Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, but two of those players ended up leaving anyway. While franchise tags are rarely rescinded, it happened twice in March.
The Carolina Panthers pulled the franchise tag applied to cornerback Josh Norman, allowing him to sign a five-year, $75 million deal with Washington. Also, the Miami Dolphins removed the transition tag given to Olivier Vernon. Soon after, the defensive end joined the New York Giants on a five-year, $85 million deal.
Cordy Glenn also resolved his franchise tag situation by agreeing to a five-year, $65 million deal with the Buffalo Bills in May, two months after the team franchised the massive offensive tackle.
But that left seven players with unresolved contract negotiations, with the deadline approaching. If a franchised player doesn’t come to terms on a long-term deal by the July 15 deadline, then that player will only be allowed to play in 2016 on a one-year deal — albeit a well-compensated one — and cannot renegotiate until Jan. 1, 2017.
It’s not uncommon for deals to happen at the last moment, and on Friday a few of them actually got done. Here's a look where every player stands after Friday's deadline.
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos
Tag amount: $14.129 million
After his dominant performance in the Super Bowl vaulted him to stardom, Miller has stayed in the spotlight. He has made the talk show rounds, was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars and Celebrity Family Feud, and has made the congratulations trips that come with a Super Bowl ring.
All the while, Miller was in a bitter and sometimes petty dispute with the Broncos front office, but he got a deal done just before the deadline, making him the highest-paid defensive player in the league.
Feb. 7: Miller is reportedly aiming to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, eclipsing the six-year, $114.375 million deal Ndamukong Suh received with $59.955 million guaranteed.
June 8: Broncos offer Miller a six-year, $114.5 million deal, but it includes just $39.8 million in guaranteed money. Miller is hoping for a deal with closer to $60 million in guarantees like Suh's.
June 16: Miller promises there’s "no chance" he will play the 2016 season under the franchise tag. If no deal got done and he held up that promise, the Broncos could just franchise him again next offseason, although Denver would be forced to use the non-exclusive tag and leave the door open for another team to swoop in.
June 24: Josina Anderson of ESPN says talks between the Broncos and Miller have gone quiet since the offer earlier in June.
July 11: The Broncos and Miller put talks on hold over the weekend, but are expected to resume negotiations on Monday. The offer on the table is reportedly a six-year, $114.5 million deal, and the Broncos have upped the guaranteed portion to $61 million.
July 15: As of Friday morning the Broncos' offer was up to $70 million guaranteed, but there was no indication of how that guarantee was structured.
Naturally, a couple hours before the deadline, it was reported that the two sides agreed on a deal. Miller himself confirmed it on his personal Twitter account with the words "FOR LIFE" and a picture of him wearing a Broncos uniform.
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington
Tag amount: $19.953 million
Jay Gruden’s decision to name Kirk Cousins the starter prior to the 2015 season was mocked by many, but he had the last laugh after the fourth-year quarterback led the NFL in completion percentage and helped Washington to an NFC East title.
There’s no doubt the team doesn’t want to let Cousins play anywhere else and feels it has found a franchise quarterback. Still, dishing out a blockbuster deal to a player with just one year as a full-time starter is dangerous. A deal was tough to get done after the season and keeping him in DC with the franchise tag was the most obvious move of the offseason for Washington.
March 2: Cousins doesn’t mess around with a contract dispute after he was franchised. The quarterback signs his tender one day later, locking him into a one-year, $19.95 million deal with Washington.
June 3: Most NFL players push for long-term security and that remains Cousins’ goal. However, he also says he’s "very content and ready to go play" on the one-year deal under the franchise tag.
July 15: As expected, Cousins will play on his $19 million franchise tag after a long-term deal wasn't reached.
Muhammad Wilkerson, DL, New York Jets
Tag amount: $15.701 million
A contract dispute between Wilkerson and the Jets dates back to the 2015 offseason when the defensive end opted not to renegotiate in the final season of his rookie deal and instead play out his contract. While he racked up 12 sacks and a Pro Bowl nod, the season ended with a broken leg for Wilkerson.
Since then, Wilkerson has endured trade rumors and hasn’t been happy about the Jets’ hesitancy to commit. In fact, there were zero reports suggesting things were looking up as the deadline neared, and it wasn't until well after the deadline passed that the Jets announced they actually got a deal done.
March 30: Less than a month after applying the franchise tag, the Jets are reportedly shopping Wilkerson for a trade.
April 28: The Jets say they don’t expect to trade Wilkerson during the 2016 NFL Draft.
June 15: Nobody expected Wilkerson to be at minicamp, especially considering he wouldn’t be able to participate due to injury. But he was hanging around the team facility to rehab, which surprised many.
June 16: "It’s shocking. It’s frustrating," Wilkerson tells Brian Costello of the New York Post. "Because I feel like I’ve earned it and I deserve it. It would be different if I was just a mediocre player. I feel like each and every week I’m dominating and it’s showing. The stats speak for themselves. Basically, what more do I need to do? You know what I mean?"
"Do I feel that they want me back? As of right now, no. I don’t feel like they want me."
June 25: Wilkerson starts running again nearly six months after breaking his leg.
July 15: Against all odds, the two sides agreed on a five-year deal that will pay Wilkerson more than $17 million per season.
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears
Tag amount: $14.599 million
A year ago, the Bears traded wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets, so it would’ve been a surprise if the team allowed Jeffery to also slip away. His fourth NFL season wasn’t his most productive as Jeffery battled through injuries for much of the year.
However, when Jeffery was on the field there was little doubt who the most dangerous player on the Bears’ offense was. He finished with 807 receiving yards and four touchdowns in nine games and Chicago ensured he’d stay by tagging him in March. They were unwilling to commit a large deal though, and Jeffery will play on the franchise tag.
May 24: Jeffery hasn’t participated in offseason workouts with the Bears, but his agent insists it isn’t a holdout and that there’s "no dispute."
May 31: The Chicago Tribune reports it’s a "near certainty" that the Bears allow Jeffery to play 2016 under the franchise tag.
June 21: Talks between the Bears and Jeffery have been ongoing, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
July 15: Despite wide receiver deals being "easy" given how they rarely diverge from one another, the Bears and Jeffery didn't manage to come to an agreement before the deadline passed on Friday.
Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Tag amount: $10.806 million
Once one of the highest-touted safety prospects in years, Berry has lived up to the hype for the Chiefs. Even a cancer diagnosis was just a small bump in the road for Berry, who returned to action in 2015 and shook off the rust to return to Pro Bowl form in a hurry and earn NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors.
The Chiefs don’t have much cap room to work with and had to let players like Sean Smith, Jeff Allen and Chase Daniel to chase bigger contracts elsewhere. But Berry was too valuable to allow to leave, though not valuable enough to give a long-term extension to in the end.
April 18: Berry doesn't show up for the Chiefs’ voluntary mini-camp.
May 12: Chiefs GM John Dorsey took his time with Justin Houston’s contract last year and expects the Berry deal will also be a "slow process."
June 21: There’s a "reasonable chance" that Berry will soon become the highest-paid safety in the NFL, according to ESPN.
June 30: Rand Getlin of NFL.com says there has been "very little back and forth" between Berry and the Chiefs since he received the franchise tag.
July 11: Berry said there still isn't much discussion between his camp and the Chiefs, but notes that a lot can change between now and July 15.
July 15: The Chiefs failed to reach a deal with Berry before the deadline, and reportedly asked him to pay for his own disability policy.
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams
Tag amount: $13.952 million
Both Johnson and Janoris Jenkins were headed toward free agency in March, but the Rams elected to keep Johnson by slapping him with the franchise tag. Meanwhile, Jenkins hit the open market and landed a blockbuster deal with the New York Giants.
The Rams chose Johnson over Jenkins likely due to his potential. The 2012 third-round pick slowly worked his way into the lineup and excelled in his first full year as a starter in 2015, racking up seven interceptions and 17 passes defended.
March 4: Johnson wastes no time signing his franchise tender, inking him to a one-year, $13.952 million deal for the 2016 season.
July 14: The Rams and Johnson are "very far apart" and not expected to come close to bridging the gap before the July 15 deadline, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
July 15: There were no reports that suggested any change in things on Friday and as expected, the deadline passed with no deal done.
Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore Ravens
Tag amount: $4.572 million
It’s not that rare for a kicker to get the franchise tag and it’s typically not a tough contract to negotiate, considering the highest average salary at the position is less than $5 million per year.
Tucker was scheduled to make more than any kicker this year — with the exception of Mason Crosby of the Green Bay Packers — so there was incentive for the Ravens to get the deal done and possibly save cap room. They did that at the last minute.
June 13: Despite not talking with the Ravens much, Tucker tells the Baltimore Sun that an extension with the team is "a matter of when, not if."
July 11: Both Tucker and the Ravens have been quiet about the status of negotiations, but the expectation that a deal will be done prior to July 15 remains.
July 14: Adam Schefter says that Tucker is so miffed by contract talks that he won't re-sign with the Ravens if he has to play under the tag this season.
July 15: Despite negotiations that seemed to have everyone frustrated, both sides managed to reach a deal less than two hours from the deadline. Tucker will get $10.8 million guaranteed, more than any kicker in the league.