It’s been since 2013 when the Bengals last used the franchise tag on a player. Should that change this year?
As the Bengals look into free agency this off-season, one of the questions they have to ask themselves is; “What players of their own do they want to keep?” The next question they have to ask themselves is; “Is there a player worth using the franchise tag on to make sure we don’t lose that player?”
The last time the Bengals felt it was necessary to use the franchise tag on an upcoming free agent was in 2013 on Michael Johnson. The Bengals have never been a team that frequently uses the franchise tag. The Bengals, over the last 13 years, have actually only used the franchise tag six times. The players the Bengals felt it was necessary to use the franchise tag on were: Rudi Johnson, Justin Smith, Stacy Andrews, Shayne Graham, Mike Nugent, and Michael Johnson.
When looking at this year’s soon-to-be free agents for the Bengals, there may be two players the Bengals could possibly look at to decide to use the franchise tag on.
One of the first players they could look at franchise tagging is Tyler Eifert, as Tyler Quedens noted in his article on the Bengals top 3 free agents.
"Top 3 Free Agency Decisions for the Bengals in the 2019 Offseason"
Tyler Eifert should be one of the Bengals main free agents they target to keep. According to NFL.com in 2018 the cost of the franchise tag on a tight end was 9.8 million dollars.
While 9.8 million dollars is not that expensive for a player with the talent of Tyler Eifert, his injury history has to be taken into account. The Bengals probably would be able to sign him for a cheaper contract, that is high on incentives, based on his playing time. So while he may be the top target for the Bengals to keep, he probably is not the best option to use the franchise tag on.
Darqueze Dennard is another player the Bengals could think about using the franchise tag on. Dennard had a slow start to his Bengals career due to injuries. However, he has shown to be a valuable slot corner the last few years now that he has been healthy. A little-known fact by Bengal fans is the Bengals secondary actually ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in pass defense last year according to pro football focus. With a new coaching staff, it is important the defensive coordinator has a good secondary to use.
Last year the franchise tag for a corner cost 14.9 million dollars. With that number expected to rise this year, Dennard’s fellow corner, Dre Kirkpatrick, could be making close to 10 million dollars this year. Tagging Dennard could be too expensive, unless the Bengals decide to move on from Dre Kirkpatrick this off-season, don’t look for the Bengals to use the franchise tag on Dennard.
When you weigh cost versus production, this looks like another year where the Bengals most likely won’t use the franchise tag. Both Eifert and Dennard are two players the Bengals need to keep, but they shouldn’t have to use the franchise tag to accomplish that.
If the Bengals feel contract talks are stalling, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bengals use the franchise tag on one of these players to ensure they keep them. As for now, don’t look for the Bengals to use the franchise tag this year.