NFL teams can now use the franchise tag on impending free agents, and the Cincinnati Bengals have two players worthy of the tag.
William Jackson is one of the top defensive backs set to hit the open market when free agency begins in March. He plays one of the NFL’s premium positions at cornerback and will likely sign a contract paying him over $10 million annually.
Another key Bengals defender set to hit free agency is defensive end Carl Lawson, who also plays a premium position that’s bound to get him a massive payday.
Between these two players, there’s a decent chance the Bengals will end up using the franchise tag this year, though they’re obviously trying to sign both players to long-term contracts before the deadline to use the tag on March 9th.
Now, it looks like Lawson is the the one who could end up being tagged.
According to James Rapien, “the Bengals are willing to place the franchise tag on Lawson.” Rapien also noted that the Bengals likely won’t tag Lawson in the coming days as both sides look to strike a deal before the tag deadline, so we’ve still got two more weeks until the tag must be used.
This past season, Lawson accumulated 64 quarterback pressures and 24 quarterback hits, according to Pro Football Focus. Only three edge defenders had more pressures, and only one had more hits. He was also among the league leaders in ESPN’s Created Sacks metric.
You can’t go wrong with using the tag on Lawson or Jackson, though the Bengals will have a tougher time replacing Lawson’s production since he’s the only consistent pass-rusher this team has.
Hopefully, the Bengals won’t need the tag and instead are able to sign both Lawson and Jackson to long-term deals in the coming weeks.