NFL free agency is about to kick off on Monday afternoon. But before teams are officially allowed to negotiate contracts with the agents of impending free agents when the “legal tampering” period begins at noon ET, teams are making sure to take care of their own, franchising players before the market opens.
Two teams exercised that option Monday morning, and two pass rushers the Detroit Lions may have been interested in are now off the open market. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their franchise tag on defensive end Shaquil Barrett, while shortly after the Pittsburgh Steelers used theirs on edge rusher Bud Dupree.
The #Bucs are franchise tagging pass-rusher Shaq Barrett, source said, locking him in after a career year.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
The #Steelers have placed the franchise tag on LB Bud Dupree. Not a surprise, standout pass-rushers rarely hit the market if teams want to keep them.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 16, 2020
Barrett led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019 and emerged as a star in the league after five forgettable seasons with the Denver Broncos. He was set to get a pay day this offseason, but the Bucs elected to hold on to him for one extra year with the franchise tag.
Dupree emerged for the Steelers in 2019 after four lackluster seasons with the team. He was selected with the 22nd overall pick in 2015, and failed to live up to that draft billing before his stand out 2019 campaign.
While Detroit was unlikely to spend big at pass rusher this season after giving Trey Flowers a mega deal last year, the position is a huge need for the team, and these moves provide them with less avenues to fill it with. It also means that the remaining names on the market will likely be more expensive.