10 players most likely to be tagged

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles

S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The franchise tag is a tool NFL teams can use to keep their most valuable free agents in the fold. These 10 players could get the tag in 2023.

The NFL’s franchise tag deadline is fast approaching on March 7 and it could be very important to the free agent market. The list of potential free agents is always enticing since it offers instant upgrades in many areas but the talent pool always gets diluted by the use of the franchise tag, which essentially ties a player’s rights back to his old team in exchange for a very high salary.

While the intended use of the tag was as a placeholder to negotiate a longer-term deal, some teams use it to pay top-dollar for short-term success and avoid guaranteeing significant long-term money to their stars. This model has driven players crazy since they would prefer to test the open market and secure the most long-term money possible in a league where the average career doesn’t even last four years.

Which players could be stuck with the franchise tag this year? Check out the 10 most likely candidates below, including a safety from the reigning NFC Champions.

10. NFL Top Franchise Tag Candidates – Philadelphia Eagles S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

The Eagles made a shrewd move trading for Gardner-Johnson at the end of camp, swapping late round picks to add the former Saint to their secondary. The deal paid off in spades as Gardner-Johnson made a huge impact, racking up 67 tackles and six interceptions in just 12 games before missing a few weeks with a lacerated kidney at the end of the regular season.

GM Howie Roseman has a lot of potential free agents to try and retain but the franchise tag offers one of its best values for safeties, who get paid $14.46 million on the tag. Gardner-Johnson could certainly beat that price tag on the open market and with James Bradberry likely to depart in free agency the Eagles can’t afford to lose two key cogs in the secondary.

Keeping an ascending safety who is just 25 years old is smart business for the Eagles, who will likely look to tag Gardner-Johnson before reaching a long-term agreement. The tag would also allow Philadelphia to have some cost certainty with him before figuring out how to address their other needs.

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