Jaguars have 2 candidates to get the franchise tag when the window opens

• NFL teams will soon be able to use the franchise tag. There are 2 Jaguars players who could potentially get it.

Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp
Jacksonville Jaguars Training Camp / James Gilbert/GettyImages
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There's never a shortage of activity in the NFL. Just a few weeks removed from Super Bowl 58, teams are gearing up for free agency. But before they start targeting players from other clubs, they'll need to sign their own. Also, they'll need to decide whether they'll use the franchise tag this year. When it comes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, two of their players are candidates to potentially get the tag.

Adam Schefter reminded everyone on Twitter that the window to use the franchise tag begins February 20 and ends on March 5. that's a bit over two weeks to make a decision. In the Jags' case, they could use it on wide receiver Calvin Ridley or outside linebacker Josh Allen, although the latter is more likely to get it.

Allen, a first-round pick in 2019, registered 10.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. However, he wasn't able to build off of the early success he enjoyed, tallying a combined 17 sacks from 2020-2022. While the former Kentucky Wildcat was dominant at times, he wasn't nearly as consistent as the Jaguars would've liked. This led them to take a wait-and-see approach heading into 2023, the last year of his rookie deal. He exceeded expectations and then some.

Throughout 2023, Allen was routinely Jacksonville's best defensive player. He set a new career best for 17.5 sacks and ranked in the top 10 of most meaningful stats among pass rushers in the NFL. However, the team's brass had yet to begin negotiations with his camp by late January. With free agency less than a month away, general manager Trent Baalke could choose to tag Allen to buy himself more time to get a deal done.

But if the Jaguars manage to reach an agreement with Allen before March 5, they could then use the tag on Ridley. A first-round pick in 2018, the former Alabama standout got an indefinite suspension for betting on NFL games toward the end of 2021. Despite the fact that he was serving the suspension in 2022, Jacksonville traded for him. He was reinstated last March and wasted no time showing he was still the same player he was early in his stint with the Atlanta Falcons.

Ridley crossed the 1,000-yard mark in his first season in Jacksonville. That was the second time in his career he achieved the feat. On top of that, he scored a team-best eight touchdowns and drew a league-high seven pass interference calls in his favor. He's now set to become a free agent when the league year starts, but the Jaguars would need to give Atlanta a second-round pick as a part of the trade they made back in 2022. That could make him a candidate to get the tag instead.

Which Jaguars player will get the franchise tag? Calvin Ridley or Josh Allen

From a strategy standpoint, it would make more sense for the Jaguars to extend Josh Allen and use the franchise tag on Calvin Ridley. If he doesn't sign the tender when free agency starts, Jacksonville won't have to be on the hook for the second-rounder. That said, there's no guarantee the front office and Josh Allen will get a deal done by early March.

On the other hand, the Jaguars could sign Ridley once free agency begins, and they wouldn't owe the Falcons the second-round pick. The risk of letting the star receiver hit the open market is that other teams will try to lure him away from Jacksonville.

Then again, he and the top brass could work out an informal agreement to ensure he re-signs with them. Either way, there are ways the Jags can bring Ridley back without having to give up the second-rounder.

The bottom line is the Jacksonville Jaguars cannot afford to lose two of their top players this offseason if they want to bounce back in 2024. If that means using the franchise tag on either one, so be it.

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