Which teams will use the tag?

One of the first steps in the upcoming NFL offseason is making franchise tag predictions for 2024.

The franchise tag window this offseason runs from February 20 to March 5. During that time, teams decide whether or not to place the franchise tag on a player who is scheduled to be a free agent to keep them for the 2024 season.

Predicting Which NFL Teams Will Use the Franchise Tag in 2024

If you’re confused, don’t worry, most fans need the franchise tag explained. It’s just one part of the salary cap rules that can sometimes complicate the NFL offseason.

The bottom line is that by using the franchise tag on a player, that player will remain with their current team in 2024 rather than become a free agent. In other words, star players are usually the ones who get tagged, which is why franchise tag predictions in 2024 will be fascinating to monitor. With that in mind, here is our guess at what teams use the franchise tag and what players will be tagged.

Bengals – Tee Higgins

The Bengals have a tough call to make with Tee Higgins. He probably won’t sign a long-term deal to stay in Cincinnati if he can find a team that will make him the focal point of the offense rather than a complementary piece to Ja’Marr Chase.

Using the franchise tag would cost the Bengals over $20 million. However, Cincinnati is one of the few teams with cap space available to pay a franchise player that much.

By keeping Higgins one more season, the Bengals could bet on Joe Burrow staying healthy in 2024 and using the Chase-Higgins tandem to carry the team to the Super Bowl. It’s a risk, but one that might be worth taking for a team that clearly has championship aspirations.

Jaguars – Josh Allen

One of the safest franchise tag predictions in 2024 is Jacksonville tagging Josh Allen if he can’t be signed to a long-term extension before the March 5 deadline. Allen just set a franchise record with 17.5 sacks in 2023 and would be among the best free agents on the open market.

To prevent that from happening, the Jags might be desperate enough to use the franchise tag. From Jacksonville’s perspective, the Jags have their franchise quarterback but still need a player like Allen to anchor the defense. That explains why Jacksonville might have no choice but to use the tag to keep Allen.

Panthers – Brian Burns

Similar to Allen, Brian Burns would be one of the best free agents on the open market this spring. He’ll only be 26 at the start of the 2024 season and is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl selections. In other words, Burns is just now entering his prime and has started to establish himself as a top-tier pass rusher. He desperately wants to hit the open market and sign a big contract.

Of course, that’s exactly why the Panthers would use the franchise tag on him. That would buy Carolina another year to prove to Burns that he should stay with the Panthers. Obviously, that’s a tough argument to make after a 2-15 campaign, which is why the Panthers need more time to sell Burns on the idea of staying in Carolina long-term.

Buccaneers – Antoine Winfield

The Bucs have a few different franchise tag candidates, including quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Mike Evans. However, safety Antoine Winfield is likely to be the choice if Tampa uses the franchise tag.

For starters, a safety won’t cost as much on the franchise tag as a quarterback or wide receiver. Winfield is also younger and a key cog on the Tampa defense. Two years ago, the Buccaneers used the franchise tag on Chris Godwin (for the second straight year) and soon signed him to a long-term deal. They wouldn’t mind using the same tactic with Winfield to prevent him from hitting the open market.

Dolphins – Christian Wilkins

Money-wise, it’d be hard for Miami to use the franchise tag on Christian Wilkins. The Dolphins are already more than $50 million over the salary cap. Yet, his importance to the Miami defense could help to negate how silly using the franchise tag would be financially.

The Dolphins would be promising Wilkins nearly $20 million in 2024, putting them in even deeper financial trouble. However, after discussing an extension with Wilkins last offseason, giving him the franchise tag would make sense for the Dolphins if they think they can agree to a long-term deal with a little more time to negotiate. Nevertheless, this will be a tough call for Miami.

Ravens – Justin Madubuike

The rumor mill is indicating strongly that Baltimore will use the franchise tag on Justin Madubuike, which isn’t the least bit surprising. Similar to Allen and Burns, he’s an excellent pass rusher, collecting 13 sacks in 2023.

That means Madubuike will be an obvious target for several teams in free agency. The Ravens don’t want to compete with others should Madubuike reach the open market. Given his importance to the Baltimore defense this past season, it makes sense for the Ravens to use the franchise tag on Madubuike if the two sides don’t have a long-term agreement by March 5.

Giants – Saquon Barkley

The Giants used the franchise tag on Saquon Barkley last offseason to keep him from becoming a free agent. Using the franchise tag on Barkley again would cost the G-Men more money.

Keep in mind that Barkley is a year old and didn’t match his 2022 numbers this past season. Of course, the Giants know how good Barkley is when he’s at his best. They also have an obvious interest in keeping him in New York. The franchise tag may not be the obvious way to do that, although it’s certainly on the table.

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