The deadline to place the franchise tag on free agent players has come and gone, and the Detroit Lions and general manager Bob Quinn did not use the tag on any of their free agents for the 2019 season.
The Lions used their franchise tag last season on defensive end Ziggy Ansah, whose 2018 was hampered and ultimately cut short by injuries. The only other time the team has used the franchise tag this decade was in 2012 on defensive end Cliff Avril.
A total of six franchise tags were dished out ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline, and they put a heavy dent on the free agent pass rusher market. Dallas’ DeMarcus Lawrence, Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney, Kansas City’s Dee Ford, Seattle’s Frank Clark and Atlanta’s Grady Jarrett all received the tag. That’s a combined 51.5 sacks of production last season off the open market.
Also tagged was San Francisco kicker Robbie Gould.
Lawrence, Clowney, Jarrett, Ford and Clark were all listed among the top nine unrestricted free agents available when the league year begins next Wednesday at 4 p.m. Those players now have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract with their respective clubs, or they’ll have to play the 2019 season under the tag without being able to negotiate again until after the season.
With the start of free agency fast approaching next week, teams are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents starting next Monday.
New England’s Trey Flowers, Washington’s Preston Smith, Baltimore’s Za’Darius Smith and Ansah are now considered a few of the best pass rushers available in the free agent market, per NFL.com’s list of the top 25 free agents.
As the NFL Scouting Combine proved last weekend, however, this is expected to be the best class of pass rushers to come into the NFL in a long time. So, if teams are looking for pass rushers, despite a number of good ones being franchised tagged ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, there’s still plenty of ways to find one both in free agency and the draft.