The Cincinnati Bengals have opted not to use the franchise tag on defensive end Carl Lawson, according to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, who adds the team still hopes to retain the young pass-rusher.
The #Bengals didn’t franchise tag pass-rusher Carl Lawson, source said, as one of the NFL’s most underrated players heads to free agency. Cincy would still like to retain him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 9, 2021
Today was the deadline for NFL teams to use the franchise tag. The Bengals have used the tag just twice since 2013, so it’s not a huge surprise they opted to not use it this time around, though Lawson was a prime candidate for it.
A fifth-year player in 2021, Lawson is one of the best young players on the Bengals’ roster. In his second-career 16-game season last year, Lawson finished with 5.5 sacks, four tackles for loss, and 32 total quarterback hits. Per Pro-Football-Reference.com, Lawson’s 44 pressures made up nearly half of the total pressures from Cincinnati’s entire defensive line (91).
Looking at Pro Football Focus’ grades, Lawson was 13th amongst starting edge defenders in defense grade (76.3), and ninth in pass-rush grade (84.9). Lawson was winning as a pass-rusher at a high level, but his 5.5 sacks did not represent that accurately.
Thanks to ESPN’s Created Sacks metric, we learned that Lawson was the first defender to win his block on 10.5 of Cincinnati’s 17 sacks. This means that Lawson helped create an additional five sacks on top of his own 5.5 quarterback takedowns.
That production and quality of play is why many thought the Bengals would tag Lawson to ensure he did not hit the free agency market this offseason.
Now, unless a new deal is struck between the two sides, Lawson will become an unrestricted free agent on Monday when free agency officially begins, though he can’t sign a contract with a new team until March 17 at 4 pm ET.
So, do you believe the Bengals made the right move by not tagging Lawson? Let us know in the poll below and in the comments section.
Did the Bengals make the right move not using the franchise tag on Carl Lawson?
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