One option that hasn't been discussed much this offseason is the Jets using their franchise tag or transition tag on any of their pending free agents.
Tomorrow is the first day on which teams can tag their pending free agents with the deadline being on March 12th, after the NFL announced on Saturday night that they are moving both dates back by two days.
One player in particular who could find themselves in this situation is wide receiver Robby Anderson.
The Jets apparently met with Anderson's representatives at the combine yesterday where the subject may have arisen, especially with the chances of an extension before he hits the market looking remote.
The basics of the tag(s)
The best-known type of tag is the franchise tag, but the transition tag might be more suitable to Anderson.
The player is signed to a one-year tender which would be a projected $19.3 million under the franchise tag but less than $16 million for the transition tag. If the player doesn't sign a long-term contract, they can play out the year on the tag and hit free agency again next year. However, if they do sign one with another team, the tag gives the player's original team the right of first refusal to match the offer.
There is no draft pick compensation for a transition tag, whereas you can usually ensure you retain a player under the exclusive franchise tag which has draft compensation of two first round picks if the player is signed away by another team.
Once tagged, the player could also be traded. This might be beneficial because you can control where the player goes to prevent him joining a rival and also you could get compensation which may exceed the compensatory pick you might get in the following year's draft for losing the player. Even if it doesn't, that compensatory pick is not guaranteed if you're also intending to sign any free agents so you can ensure you get the compensation and receive it sooner.
It's been widely reported that the Jets would like to keep Anderson but are reluctant to offer him more than $10 million per year even though he's expecting to command $13-to-15 million.
However, we've heard that the Jets would like to retain Anderson and actually would be prepared to offer him big money. However, Anderson may still prefer to join another team if they have a better situation for him in terms of having a chance to compete for a postseason spot and an offense within which he can produce at a higher level.
If that's the case then the Jets don't have to be resigned to losing Anderson because they can use to tag to give themselves a chance to retain him after all.
The downside of using the tag
If you've decided you'll match any offer up to a certain point, there could still be a situation where the offer the player gets is more than you would have been willing to pay. Or is longer, contains more guarantees or has a structure you don't like.
Say the Raiders (or whoever) came in with a $20 million per year offer for Anderson and the Jets decided not to match, then they'd be losing Anderson and, by then, any potential alternatives may already have signed contracts elsewhere.
As a result, if the player has decided he'd prefer to join the team who he intends to sign the offer sheet with than stay with the Jets, they could delay signing the offer sheet in order to try and leverage the Jets into going in another direction.
Is there anyone else the Jets could/should use a tag on?
Under current rules, although the CBA re-negotiation is pending and could interfere with this in the unlikely event it goes through this week, teams are entitled to use a transition tag AND a franchise tag rather than just one or the other. That's because 2020 is the last year of the current CBA.
So, whether or not the Jets tag Anderson, they could still look to tag another player. This seems unlikely, however. For them to tag a guy like Jordan Jenkins or Kelvin Beachum would cost $14-16 million dollars, even at the transition tag level. That seems excessive. And they're the only two players close to that level.
However, the tag can sometimes be used as a placeholder to ensure you retain negotiation rights once the player hits free agency. The Jets did this with Nick Folk several years ago before eventually signing him to a reasonable multi-year deal. It's perhaps not impossible they would do the same for Lachlan Edwards as the transition tag would be less than $5 million. However, Edwards was pretty underwhelming last year and can probably be signed for a lot less if they were keen to retain his services.
Tagging Anderson has to be something the Jets are considering, especially with Anderson already having announced his intention to hit free agency.
From what we gather, the team has not indicated to Anderson's camp yet what they intend to do, so perhaps they're just going to bid along with everyone else and hope for the best. However, with that mechanism there, it could be beneficial to consider using this because there's not much of a downside if you think you won't retain the player otherwise.
Perhaps if they don't tag him that's a sign they're confident they can re-sign him easily enough. On the other hand, it might be a sign they're preparing to move on.