The deadline to franchise tag players has passed, and as expected, the Cincinnati Bengals have passed on using it.
Coming into the deadline, there was little-to-no chance of the Bengals using it, despite having a pair of candidates in safety Jessie Bates III and linebacker Germaine Pratt. While they’re important players, the tag would have put them on one-year contracts that weren’t advantageous to the team.
Tagging Bates for a second-straight year would have cost well over $15 million. Tagging Pratt would cost over $20 million.
Bates III is expected to hit the open market and could command an annual salary of over $14 million annually. The market for Pratt should be strong as well. They were key players for the Bengals, especially as their defense played a key factor in another AFC Championship Game run.
Both players were also drafted by Cincinnati, so it is both a positive and negative that the team is struggling to retain homegrown talent, clearly meaning they have been drafting well as of late.
The Bengals also got a small win with Lamar Jackson getting the non-exclusive franchise tag, which means he will be able to talk to other teams in the free agency process.