Starting on Tuesday, NFL teams have a 15-day window to designate a player with the franchise or transition tag. For the Detroit Lions, the most likely candidate to be slapped with the franchise tag is wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent now that his rookie contract is up.
And while the Lions are certainly tight against the cap, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport believes they will franchise tag Golladay if they can’t come to a long-term agreement. He said it’s very unlikely he hits free agency.
“I would be very surprised if he’s actually available,” Rapoport said on Monday. “Another strong franchise tag candidate. I know they had talks last year about a long-term extension. Did not happen. They’re going to try again this year, but expect him to be tagged if they don’t get a deal.”
Though the exact number won’t be available until the 2021 salary cap is set, Over The Cap is projecting the franchise tag to be worth around $16.4 million for wide receivers.
That’s a significant price for a cap-strapped team to pay for just a one-year deal, but it also gives the Lions some options. They could choose to tag-and-trade Golladay, a rare and risky option, but one that could immediately help them build for the future. It also gives them some extra leverage if they still want Golladay as part of their long-term plans in Detroit, as Rapoport seems to suggest.
Late last season, Golladay said he’d like to stay in Detroit but would prefer a long-term deal to the franchise tag. Still, he admitted if he were tagged he “wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.” He even told NFL Network show “Good Morning Football” how excited he was after hearing new head coach Dan Campbell’s introductory press conference.
“That’s the energy I’m talking about,” Golladay said. “He set the tone right there. I guess we’re going to be biting some kneecaps off.”
The Lions certainly need the help at receiver right now. Golladay is just one of five Detroit receivers facing free agency, including Marvin Jones Jr., Danny Amendola, Mohamed Sanu, and Jamal Agnew.
It sounds like there’s definitely mutual interest at this point in negotiations, but will Detroit have to resort to the franchise tag this year?