The New Orleans Saints franchise tag has not yet been applied to any player. One week is all the time NFL clubs have left to apply this tag. All NFL clubs have until March 9, 2021, to tag a player. Any player not tagged by this date becomes a free agent on March 16. Several key members of the Saints defense will hit the free-agent market. If the Saints want to keep a highly ranked defense together in an uncertain 2021 season, applying the franchise tag might be necessary.
New Orleans Saints Franchise Tag Players and Salary
The New Orleans Saints potential franchise tag players can likely be narrowed. Players like D.J. Swearinger, Ken Crawley, Alex Anzalone, and even Jameis Winston will be longshots for this tag. The amount due to these players would likely far exceed their market value. Here is a list of the projected franchise tag amounts as gathered by Over the Cap. The highest positions on this list are quarterbacks, defensive ends, and wide receivers. Linebackers and cornerbacks come in next with very similar salary cap hits. Salary cap woes are no stranger to the New Orleans Saints. It is unlikely, but possible, that the Saints use their tag on one of these highly paid positions.
Sheldon Rankins, Defensive Tackle
Sheldon Rankins‘ name comes with a lot of question marks. Rankins has been with the Saints for five years but only started 33 games. He started all 16 games in 2017 and 2018, but injuries have been the biggest concern since then. Rankins’ value has been hurt by these injury-plagued seasons. Defensive tackles are going to be owed around $14 million which is the fifth-lowest of all positions. Placing the tag on a player who cannot stay healthy is likely not in the Saints plans.
Trey Hendrickson, Defensive End
Going into the 2020 season, the free-agent market for Trey Hendrickson was likely thin. But Hendrickson’s play last season changed this thought process completely. Hendrickson tied Aaron Donald with the most sacks in the league. In his previous three years, Hendrickson had six and a half sacks total. In 2020, he racked up 13.5 and added 25 quarterback hits. Free agency can be a race towards defensive ends. Hendrickson has likely earned himself a large payday this off-season. The franchise tag for a defensive end will likely come in between $17 and $18 million. The Saints and Hendrickson could use the franchise tag to negotiate a long-term deal as well.
P.J. Williams, Cornerback
P.J. Williams has been a solid player for the New Orleans Saints. His role though has mostly been as a role player though. In his five years in the NFL, he has started only 26 games. In these five years, Williams has just five interceptions and 26 passes defended. With cornerback franchise tags starting around $15 million, Williams would likely not be targeted by the organization.
Marcus Williams, Safety
Marcus Williams could be the most likely candidate for the franchise tag. The fourth-lowest salaried position on the franchise tag is safety. Jeremy Fowler has reported that the Saints are expected to prioritize keeping Williams. The franchise tag is likely to come in around $11 million for the safety position. This is a much lower number than the rest of this list. Williams has only played four years in the NFL, all with the Saints. At just 24 years of age, Williams has been a strength of the Saints defense.
New Orleans Saints Franchise and Free Agency
The New Orleans Saints have multiple tough decisions to make this off-season. The franchise tag time is running short. Free agency begins next week. The makeup of the Saints could be very different going into the 2021 season. Using the franchise tag can alleviate some of these pains.