How the Washington Football Team is affected by 2021’s franchise tags

Washington Football Team OL Brandon Scherff. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Football Team OL Brandon Scherff. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

How did this year’s franchise tag deadline impact the Washington Football Team?

The 2021 deadline for NFL teams to offer franchise tag designations to impending free agents has now passed. With it, one level of speculation can be put to rest. We now know for sure who has been franchised. Do any of these decisions affect the Washington Football Team as it enters the free agency signing period? Let’s take a quick look.

In all, ten players were franchised. One of them, Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott, was franchised and then almost immediately signed to a long-term deal, thus removing the franchise tag and ensuring he will remain in Dallas for the next four years.

Of the nine remaining players, the one with the biggest impact on the Washington Football Team is Washington’s own All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff. Scherff’s tag does not guarantee that he will be on the team in 2021, but it does make it far more likely. A team can still sign and trade a player after franchising him, but by preventing the player from becoming a free agent, the tag gives the team more leverage in any potential deal.

Since this is the second consecutive year Washington has franchised Scherff, he will get about $18 million, which is a high price for an interior lineman. Presumedly, Washington and Scherff will discuss a possible extension over the next few months. If no agreement is reached, Scherff will likely play for Washington in 2021, and then become a free agent. The cost involved in a third consecutive franchise tag in 2022 would be prohibitive.

The New England Patriots chose not to franchise the other elite guard scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in 2021, Joe Thuney. Had Washington decided not to franchise Scherff, they may have pursued Thuney as a replacement. As it turned out, the decisions by Washington and New England are good news for Thuney, as it leaves him the only top-tier interior lineman on the market when free agency begins next week.

Three safeties – all of whom are capable of playing free safety – were franchised as well. Since Washington is in need of a free safety, this would appear to be a negative. Denver’s tagging of Justin Simmons – for my money the best, most versatile safety in the game – came as no surprise. And it has seemed likely for a while that the New York Jets were going to place a tag on Marcus Maye, who took over as a leader of the defense after the trade of Jamal Adams.

The Saints’ Marcus Williams was a little more under-the-radar and could have been a genuine steal for the Washington Football Team, had he been available. He is just 24 years old, and has proven to be a very solid all-around player in his four years in the league.

Still, these moves do not have a major impact on the Washington Football Team. There are other bargains to be found amongst the free agent safeties. The Rams’ John Johnson may prove too expensive, but players like Malik Hooker and Xavier Woods could be signed for less money. And Washington has already been linked to former Panther Tre Boston.

Even if they sign Boston – or one of the other lower-priced UFAs – Washington may choose to invest in one of the enticing prospects in the upcoming draft. TCU’s Trevon Moehrig and UCF’s Richie Grant both project to be very good fits for Washington’s back end. Moehrig is a likely first or second-rounder, and Grant may go in the third.

Neither offensive tackle that was franchised – Carolina’s Taylor Moton nor Jacksonville’s Cam Robinson – figured into Washington’s plans. Moton is a stud at right tackle, but Washington is not in the market for a right tackle. And Robinson, the biggest surprise among the franchised players, has been far too inconsistent throughout his pro career to warrant consideration at left tackle. Cornelius Lucas may not look as promising as Robinson, but he might have been better in 2020.

The other franchised defender, the Giants’ Leonard Williams, plays a position in which Washington is already heavily invested. The worst thing about this move from Washington’s perspective is that it keeps Williams – a very good player who has been on the brink of superstar status for several years now – on a division opponent.

Where the Washington Football Team was hurt the most in the recent franchise moves came at the wide receiver position. Washington is desperate to add complements to Terry McLaurin, and two potential targets, Chicago’s Allen Robinson and Tampa Bay’s Chris Godwin, have now been removed from the free agent pool via the tag.

Neither move was certain because both teams have numerous roster decisions in play. But neither was unexpected either – especially the decision on Godwin, who is just 25 and already borderline elite. The Robinson move hurts the most because a lot of analysts and fans alike saw him as an ideal fit in Washington.

Still, one key move that was not made – Detroit’s decision to not franchise Kenny Golladay – softens the hurt some. Golladay has always been at the top of my wish list for the Washington Football Team, and he remains in play, along with other solid options like Will Fuller V, Corey Davis and another former Panther, Curtis Samuel. There are other options as well.

This year’s draft also appears to be loaded with quality wide receivers up and down the board. Look for the Washington Football Team to add receivers both via free agency and through the draft.

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The Allen Robinson tag is the most disappointing for Washington, but now that the dust has settled on franchise tags, the way forward still looks very promising.