At 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the NFL’s deadline to use the franchise tag expired. Six teams opted to use the tag—the Jaguars tagged Evan Engram, the Raiders tagged Josh Jacobs, the Commanders tagged Daron Payne, the Cowboys tagged Tony Pollard, the Giants tagged Saquon Barkley, and perhaps most notably, the Ravens tagged Lamar Jackson—but the Detroit Lions were not among those teams.
The franchise tag is typically reserved for one of a team’s most valuable players who has not come to a long-term agreement with the team and is on an expiring contract. The franchise tag buys the team more time to negotiate long term, while also having a one-year tender in place worth an average of the top-five salaries at that player’s position.
The Lions have several high-priority free agents they’d like to re-sign this year, but none of them are likely to earn top-five money at their position. Running back Jamaal Williams is likely viewed as a complementary back, not a feature. Wide receiver DJ Chark has battled too many injuries to be considered for such a rich contract. Edge defender John Cominsky is a role player.
Detroit will have until Monday, March 13 at noon ET to re-sign these players before they can start negotiating with other teams. Free agents will be able to sign with other teams two days later—at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 15.
The Lions have rarely used the franchise tag in team history. Only five players have had the Lions place the tag on them since it was introduced in 1993: Lomas Brown in 1995, Robert Porcher in 2000, Cory Redding in 2007, Cliff Avril in 2012, and Ezekiel Ansah in 2018.