By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and in an easy decision, the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a four-year extension with quarterback Dak Prescott. Coming off an awful, potentially franchise-altering injury, Prescott will face questions surrounding his health until he makes his return to the field. However, given Dallas’s move to lock him up long-term, there seems to be little concern surrounding his ability to return to being a top-ten quarterback. With a star-studded cast of playmakers around him, Prescott has a chance to re-establish himself as an MVP candidate with a season of health in 2021.
Chicago made the obvious decision to assign the franchise tag to star receiver Allen Robinson. Despite being saddled with mediocre to bad quarterback play for the duration of his career, Robinson has established himself as one of the best pass-catchers in the NFL. Unfortunately, with Chicago seemingly unlikely to swing a blockbuster deal for Russell Wilson, Robinson isn’t likely to have a better under-center situation in 2021.
Likewise, Tampa Bay used its franchise tag on superstar receiver Chris Godwin, keeping Tom Brady’s go-to weapon in town for 2021. Despite missing four games in 2020, Godwin finished second on the Bucs in targets, highlighting his importance to its high-octane offense. Along with tagging Godwin, the Bucs locked up veteran linebacker Lavonte David to a two-year deal. Now, Tampa Bay will turn its attention to a long-term deal for pass rusher Shaq Barrett, though it is within reason to expect the Bucs to be outbid for his services.
In a surprise move, the Detroit Lions announced intentions to not use its franchise tag on receiver Kenny Golladay. This unexpected development makes Golladay the biggest potential difference-maker available on the open market, and a bidding war will likely ensue between the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Giants to secure his services. Detroit’s receiving corps, sans Golladay, shapes up to be among football’s worst in 2021, an awful development for newly-acquired quarterback Jared Goff.
As jarring as Detroit’s decision not to tag Golladay was, it was not the biggest surprise of the day. That honor went to Jacksonville’s decision to franchise tag left tackle Cam Robinson. Among the worst pass-blocking tackles in the NFL, Jacksonville apparently valued a known quantity over an unknown, opting to keep Robinson in town to protect assumed first overall pick Trevor Lawrence’s blindside. Given Jacksonville’s massive wealth of cap space, this isn’t an indefensible move, merely a curious one.
First-team All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff was franchise tagged by the Washington Football Team for the second consecutive season. Among the best interior blockers in the NFL, Scherff will likely be the recipient of a long-term deal this off-season, given the exorbitant sum heading his way via the franchise tag. Washington has plenty of work to do upgrading its roster, but retaining Scherff for 2021 was a needed, obvious opening move. Even with tagging Scherff, Washington boasts enough cap space to bring in multiple upgrades across its roster.
Another offensive lineman receiving the franchise tag was tackle Taylor Moton of the Carolina Panthers. Moton is a challenger to Mitchell Schwartz as the best pass-blocking right tackle in football, and he is among Carolina’s most irreplaceable talents. Unfortunately for the Panthers, he’s the lone standout along the line, and most of his blocking mates are heading to free agency. The Panthers lack adequate cap space to bring in upgrades. Moton is likely heading into a season anchoring a makeshift line alongside a mid-round rookie or two.