One certainty of this Bengals’ offseason is that Cincinnati will likely end up using their franchise tag. It is now a matter of when they’ll use it as the NFL and NFLPA agreed to move back the deadline two days, as Adam Schefter reported for ESPN.
NFLPA and NFL Mgmt Council have pushed back the start of the franchise designation period from Tuesday Feb 25 to Thursday Feb 27, and period now will end March 12 instead of March 10, per source. Absent of a new CBA agreement, each team can use a franchise and transition tag.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 23, 2020
The deadline being moved does little to change the way the Bengals will approach their plans this offseason. The biggest target for the franchise tag is A.J. Green who is set to hit the open market.
Both sides seem willing to negotiate a long-term deal, but the fact Green has only played nine games the past two seasons could have Cincinnati hesitant to reach Green’s price tag. Green also will likely be pretty set on his number as this could be his last contract he can negotiate as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL. Green has also stated that while he doesn’t like the idea of the franchise tag, he would still be willing to play under it. He would just be prepared to sit out OTAs if that transpires.
This move seems to be trying to avoid any unnecessary confusion over the franchise tag going into a new CBA. There are things that could change how a player who has been tagged is handled or paid, and rushing into that period while in negotiations seems like a bad plan for both sides.
The plan of Green playing out a season under the franchise tag still seems like the most likely. Hopefully the star wide receiver is able to perform up to his high standards and earn another long-term deal with the Bengals next offseason.