Impact of Franchise Tag Deadline on the New York Jets Free Agency Plans

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How the franchise tag deadline impacts the New York Jets plans for free agency? As the NFL faces its first salary cap decrease since the 2011 lockout, it is no surprise teams are scrambling to work out their financial situation. Many teams around the league are cutting key veterans, while others found themselves locking up players for the 2021 season thanks to the franchise tag. On Tuesday, March 9th, the 2021 franchise tag deadline came and went, with ten players receiving the designation.

Luckily for the New York Jets, they have plenty of cap space. New York only trails the Jacksonville Jaguars in cap space, as they surely closely monitored who did, and who did not receive the franchise tag this off-season. Taking this into consideration, here is how the franchise tag deadline impacts the New York Jet

Impact of Franchise Tag Deadline on the New York Jets Free Agency Plans

Marcus Maye Receives Franchise Tag

The evening before the deadline, reports emerged that the New York Jets will franchise tag safety Marcus Maye. This report came as no surprise, as the idea of franchise tagging Maye gained steam in recent weeks. Maye, who recently turned 28-years-old, will be playing his first season under head coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense. While general manager Joe Douglas continues to insist the team wants him there long-term, allowing Maye to play one season in the new scheme first is a safe move.

At the same time, it keeps Maye, a fan favorite and one of the team’s best players in Florham Park for 2021. Last season, Maye started every game, posting career-highs with 88 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and 11 pass deflections. The franchise tag will earn Maye about $10.5-million this season. With the free-agent safety market being loaded this year and contract numbers only to rise, this winds up being a team-friendly deal.

Wide Receiver Market Thins… Slightly

One of gang green’s biggest needs this off-season is at wide receiver. In desperate need of weapons, expect the Jets to turn to free agency for a solution. As expected, Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and more will be available. Joining them will be Kenny Golladay, who did not receive the franchise tag from the Detroit Lions.

While they all make for promising additions for the Jets, only Golladay was considered a tier-one receiver set to hit the market. Both others, being Allen Robinson of the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin, were franchised tagged. Neither will join Golladay as available free agents, meaning that Golladay’s price tag will rise.

Tight Ends Galore

Unlike at receiver, the tight end position saw no franchise tag designations. In other words, players such as Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith will join Rob Gronkowski, Gerald Everett, Kyle Rudolph, and more available to sign anywhere. And that is where the Jets come away as winners.

At the moment, the Jets have Chris Herndon slotted as their starting tight end in 2021. Now, Herndon does make for a potential bounce-back candidate in Mike LaFleur’s offense, though, the Jets cannot afford to simply hand him the job. Especially when there are major upgrades that are free agents. As LaFleur molds his offense based on Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers, do not be surprised if the Jets try to add their George Kittle through free agency.

One Guard Down

Even more than a tight end, the Jets will be exploring potential upgrades at guard. 2020 starters Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten both signed three-year deals last off-season but make for cap casualties. Guard Joe Thuney and center Corey Linsley will be top targets for the team, especially with the Washington Football Team having tagged Brandon Scherff. As the interior offensive line market is now one thinner, expect even more competitors for Thuney and Linsley.

Plenty of Edge Rushers Available

For over a decade, the Jets have been searching for that young, explosive pass rusher off the edge. And now help may finally be on the way. At the franchise tag deadline, only one defensive lineman was tagged, being former Jet Leonard Williams. Shaquil Barrett of the Buccaneers and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Bud Dupree will join the likes of Von Miller, Matt Judon, Yannick Ngakoue, Romeo Okwara, Carl Lawson and so many more as edge rushers the Jets can take a look at.

Last Word on Jets Free Agency

Every year, the franchise tag deadline alters the market by seeing top-tier players remain with their teams. Players that fans were hoping they could target. Yet, somehow, the Jets find themselves in a position to fill various holes on the roster with excellent free-agent value. Now, it simply becomes a waiting game until March 17th, when free agents can officially sign for 2021.

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