Broncos, Chargers, Jaguars and Ravens use franchise tags

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

Four AFC teams used their franchise tags on Friday afternoon, taking three defensive stars and a young tight end off the market.

With NFL free agency and the franchise tag deadline less than three days away, four teams took action.

The following players were designated by the corresponding teams, all with the non-exclusive franchise tag:

Baltimore Ravens – OLB – Matthew Judon
Denver Broncos – S – Justin Simmons
Jacksonville Jaguars – DE – Yannick Ngakoue
Los Angeles Chargers – TE – Hunter Henry

The projected cost of each tag is $16.2 million for Judon, $12.7 million for Simmons, $19.3 million for Ngakoue and $11.1 million for Henry.

None of these players being tagged come as a surprise. After allowing edge rushers Za’Darius Smith and Terrell Suggs to hit free agency last year, Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta won’t see Judon enjoy the same freedom. In 2019, Judon totaled 9.5 sacks, giving the 28-year-old his best campaign.

In Denver, Simmons was a no-brainer. The Broncos want to sign Simmons to a long-term deal, per their team release. The 26-year-old was a Pro Bowl snub last season after amassing 93 tackles and four sacks. Despite not having the star power, Simmons is one of the best players in the league.

With Ngakoue, FanSided reported in early February this would come to pass. The 24-year-old is frustrated with Jacksonville and has publicly demanded a trade. In four years with the Jaguars, Ngakoue notched 37.5 sacks and a Pro Bowl berth. If traded, he should command a first-round draft pick.

Finally, the Chargers bringing Henry back makes sense. Although oft-injured, Henry is one of the league’s better tight ends coming off his rookie deal. In four seasons, the former University of Arkansas standout has 1,709 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns. Of course, Henry missed all of 2018 with a torn ACL sustained in OTAs.

All four players will count against the team’s salary cap effective the new league year, beginning on March 18. This applies whether or not the player in question signs the tag. Should the player be tagged and traded, the cap charge disappears.