2023 NFL Franchise Tag Winners and Losers

by Matt Babich · Contracts & Free Agency

Welcome to 2023 Franchise Tag Winners and Losers! The 2023 NFL franchise tags are submitted, and it’s time to review the post-deadline winners and losers around the league! Each season, franchise tags have the potential to massively shake up the NFL landscape.

I’ll discuss the quality of the biggest franchise tag transactions and how they will impact fantasy football production in the upcoming season.

Franchise Tag Winners

The New York Giants & Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Saquon Barkley, bringing the superstar back on a $10.1 million contract. Barkley is still seeking a long-term extension from the Giants. Early reports are the situation can get “dicey” if the two parties remain far apart in negotiations, but don’t worry about a holdout just yet. The Giants currently have $199 million in available cap space in 2024 and will have plenty of money to sign the veteran to an agreeable deal.

Placing Barkley on the non-exclusive franchise tag provides the Giants with more ammo to add more firepower this off-season. The Daboll era in New York is off to a savvy start. The Giants will be a tough out in the NFC this season.

Fantasy Implication

With New York sure to invest in pass catchers, it seems this offense is only going to improve next season. Barkley was electric in Year 1 of the Daboll-led offense, producing 17.8 fantasy points per game. He returns to a team that ran 30.6 (No. 8) Team Run Plays per Game last season and fed him an 80.1-percent (No. 3) Opportunity Share. Barkley should be the RB1 going into drafts this season.

The Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Tony Pollard, their 2023 breakout supernova. A $10.1 million contract is a solid value for a back of his caliber, but the Cowboys’ next move could quickly move them into the loser’s column. The Cowboys can make back the money spent on Pollard’s contract by releasing Ezekiel Elliott after June 1st.

The savvy move is to part ways with Elliott unless he’s willing to take a significant pay cut), bring in a cheap veteran, and throw a Day-3 dart on a replacement in the draft. Time will tell what the team chooses to do.

Fantasy Implication

Pollard erupted for 15.6 (No. 8) Fantasy Points per Game on a mere 48.1-percent (No. 34) Opportunity Share. In an offense where Mike McCarthy just wants to “run the damn ball,” there is plenty of opportunity up for grabs. Whether Elliott returns or a rookie enters the mix, Pollard is the guy in the Dallas backfield. He is one of the league’s most effective playmakers and is in for a massive Year 2 as the backfield leader.

The Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars brought back Evan Engram on the non-exclusive franchise tag, locking in the soon-to-be 29-year-old tight end on an $11.3 million contract. This is a team-friendly deal. Engram is virtually a slot receiver, spending 37-percent of his time there last season. Jacksonville locking him in on tight-end value is a huge win for a team that is out of cap space.

Engram and the Jaguars will work to agree to a longer-term extension. It’s a plausible outcome, but the Jaguars’ cap situation throughout the next few seasons may coax the organization into going in another direction. Until any extension gets finalized, the veteran pass-catcher will have to stomach the fact that he makes less money than Robbie Anderson.

Fantasy Implication

Engram displayed what his true potential has always been, chalking up 73 (No. 3) receptions and 766 (No. 4) receiving yards. He excelled in the open field, generating over half of his receiving yards after the catch through 4.7 Yards After Catch per Target. Touchdowns were the bane of Engram’s season as he found the end zone only four times last season.

Calvin Ridley entering the rotation this offseason is a major blow for Engram’s upside. Ridley is coming off two straight seasons of a 25-percent Target Share, and Christian Kirk established his role in Jacksonville with a 23-percent Target Share. Engram and Zay Jones will likely lose out on opportunities in the upcoming season which will damage their fantasy outlooks. Currently, Engram is accurately priced as the TE7.

Franchise Tag Losers

The Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens waived the white flag on the Lamar Jackson era, allowing him to seek out suitors by placing him on the non-exclusive franchise tag. Despite clearly deserving the money, Baltimore remained grounded in their decision to not fully guarantee his deal. The offers submitted were laughable, and Eric DeCosta should be ashamed of himself.

Failing to put together a contending roster with a human joystick as your quarterback should be a criminal offense. Year after year, the team focused on the defensive side of the ball and built a run-reliant offense. Even if the Ravens agree to match an offer sheet, this relationship is likely beyond repair. It’s high time that Jackson joins a more competent organization.

Fantasy Implication

If Jackson is going to leave, he is certainly not going to join a worse offense. Many of his suitors have a plethora of offensive weapons. If he joins any of those teams, he is instantly back in the conversation to finish as the overall QB1 in fantasy once again. Detroit, Miami, Atlanta, and Seattle are four potential suitors who could jump out and bring Jackson into a loaded offense. There’s nowhere to go but up for the former MVP.

Josh Jacobs

The Las Vegas Raiders placed Josh Jacobs on the non-exclusive franchise tag. This gives him a $2 million pay raise from what his fifth-year option would have cost the team. Jacobs is reportedly willing to play on the franchise tag if he and the organization can agree to a long-term extension. If the Raiders refuse to meet the number Jacobs is requesting, which they likely will not, then Jacobs is forced to either play on the tag or force his way out of Las Vegas and hope he finds a favorable situation.

With the current landscape of the NFL, Jacobs will likely end up traded mid-season before he walks in free agency. This move’s real-life implications on Jacobs’ future land him on the loser’s list.

Fantasy Implication

Luckily for fantasy gamers, this move is beneficial for Jacobs. The veteran was a true bell-cow last season, earning 340 (No. 2) carries and 65 (No. 11) targets on a team that ran only 25.1 (No. 20) Team Run Plays per Game. He is a quality back who is more efficient than he was given credit for and returns to an offense with no serious competition. Las Vegas, who is pushing for Aaron Rodgers, will try to get everything they can out of Jacobs while he’s still a Raider.