Why the Baltimore Ravens should not use the franchise tag
Today is the first day that the Baltimore Ravens could designate a player for the franchise tag, The Ravens have two weeks from today to decide whether or not they’re going to use this option. This would however be a perfect year to skip the franchise tag.
The top candidate for the franchise tag would be Yannick Ngakoue, right? The Ravens would be much better suited by reaching a three to a five-year deal with Ngakoue.
The franchise tag basically gives the player the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position. That’s a big cap hit in a year where the salary cap isn’t that high. Working out a contract gives the Ravens more flexibility.
The franchise tag is a crutch for teams to keep players they otherwise would lose. The downside of it for a player is that it leaves him stuck and without options, stealing the fun of being courted by other teams. The downside for the team is that they’re paying the player big money for one season and looking at the same situation the following year.
So while the upside is obvious for both sides, it’s never what the team or the player wants. The Ravens must avoid the franchise tag if they can. The Ravens have a good track record of avoiding the tag. Most often the Ravens designate a franchise player and come up with an extension at the last minute.
Last year the Ravens used the franchise tag on Matt Judon. Judon had 51 total tackles and six sacks. In retrospect, you can make the argument that Judon should have been allowed to find another team. The Ravens needed pass rush desperately and Judon was a big part of the plan.
If the Ravens had lost Judon in free agency it would have been seen as a major hit. It also would have forced the Ravens to go out and find an edge rusher. The Ravens ended up trading for Ngakoue in the middle of the season and the outside linebacker position remains one of the major team needs.
This isn’t even a knock on Judon. The Ravens decided that Judon was a franchise player. This means he’s a core player, someone they can’t lose. Judon is a good player, but he didn’t play up to the franchise player status. The Ravens paid him over $16 million.
You could also argue that the Ravens didn’t really have a choice but to use the franchise tag on Judon. The Ravens lacked at the position with him on the roster. Judon has always been good, and the hope was he would be great.
If the Ravens tag Ngakoue this year, they’re limiting what they can do this offseason in one move. If Ngakoue has a big year under the tag he’ll be hard to keep next offseason. Then the Ravens would be right back where they started with a player who famously can’t stand the franchise tag.
The Ravens have to hope they can work some magic if they want to keep a player like Ngakoue. The franchise tag is the least appealing way to get it done. If you’re not going to tag Ngakoue, it’s better to just not tag anyone.
The Bottom Line:
The Ravens have no good reason to use the signing tool that gives them the least amount of options and flexibility. If ever there was an offseason to forget about the franchise tag it’s this one.
In a year where the Ravens’ needs are the expensive kind, the franchise tag isn’t necessarily their friend. The point is really not about Ngakoue or Judon but they are examples of why a forced tag is often the wrong move.