The Jacksonville Jaguars will have to answer several questions this offseason. One is whether they'll use the franchise tag on outside linebacker Josh Allen or give him a long-term deal. While the tag comes with a set of benefits, they may be better off giving their star pass rusher a multi-year contract, especially if a recent contract projection accurately represents the amount it would take to get an extension done.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report recently projected the contracts for a handful of players set to hit the open market. While he believes Allen should get a better contract than the one Montez Sweat signed last year, he doesn't think he'll get more than $25 million per year.
"Montez Sweat signed a four-year, $98 million extension with $72.9 million guaranteed after the Chicago Bears acquired him. Based on his performance, Allen deserves an even higher salary.
The problem is Jacksonville can save a few million with the tag—which is the same story for Brian Burns and the Carolina Panthers."
For context, the Green Bay Packers gave Rashaan Gary a four-year, $107.5 million deal in 2022. It wouldn't be shocking to see Allen ask for compensation in that neighborhood. Heck, he may even want an even better deal coming off a career year. The trouble is that the Jaguars and Allen hadn't begun negotiations in late January, and they have around a month to get a deal done if they don't want him to leave in free agency.
The Jaguars could most definitely use the franchise tag in good faith if they think they need a bit more time to get Allen under contract. Marcus Mosher of Pro Football Focus thinks that's the course of action they'll take. However, it should only be used as a placeholder. The tag for linebackers in 2024 is slated to be $21.9 million, around $1 million less than his projected annual salary. That's not nearly enough of a savings to warrant its use.
Also, Allen would account for $22 million next season if he plays under the tag. Conversely, the Jaguars could structure a long-term deal in a way in which he will have relatively small cap hits in the first two years.
The Jaguars waited to give Josh Allen a new deal. They'll now need to fork out more money.
The team's brass could've given Allen an extension last year but opted not to. That wasn't inherently a bad thing. Although Allen has been one of their top players since they drafted him seventh overall in 2019, he hadn't reached his full potential as recently as last year.
The Jags wanted to make sure he could build more consistency last year and he did. The former Kentucky Wildcat registered 17.5 sacks and was one of two Jacksonville players who earned a Pro Bowl berth, the other one being long-snapper Ross Matiscik. Having proved himself, Allen should now get the contract he earned. He would be in his right to skip team activities in the offseason if he doesn't get it. In fact, he doesn't have to report to training camp if doesn't sign the tag.
That would be less than ideal when you take into account that defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen will be installing a new scheme. He'll need his best player to set the tone. Moreover, his potential absence could have a negative effect on the team's morale. Why should other players bother giving their best if they see that performing at a high level won't be enough to get paid?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have let some of their top players go in previous years. They cannot afford to make the same mistake with Josh Allen. While using the franchise tag may come with a few benefits, the only way to really take care of him is by giving him an extension. The sooner they do it, the faster they'll be able to turn their attention to addressing other needs.