By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and the Tennessee Titans reached a long-term agreement with running back Derrick Henry in a last-minute deal before the franchise tag deadline. Henry is coming off a massive season that catapulted the Titans deep in the playoffs. Still, there is cause for concern surrounding his long-term prospects. Henry totaled nearly 400 carries between the regular season and playoffs, an enormous workload for a running back. The Titans had previously put the franchise tag on Henry, a move that may have been the smarter one compared to committing long-term money to a running back with his recent history for wear and tear.
Quarterback Dak Prescott continued to discuss a long-term deal with Dallas heading into Wednesday’s deadline, but ultimately the two parties failed to reach an agreement. Prescott will play this season on the franchise tag, hoping to replicate last year’s breakout success. It appears Prescott’s desire to become the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback other than Patrick Mahomes was too steep a price for the Cowboys. Despite Prescott’s production and the scarcity of reliable quarterbacks, it is difficult to find fault with Dallas’s decision-making. An encore showing of last year’s elite play will make the decision to hand Prescott a long-term guaranteed deal a much easier choice.
Among those joining Prescott in playing the 2020 season on the franchise tag is veteran receiver A.J. Green, who will look to serve as the go-to option for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. Two of the NFL’s best safeties will play without long-term commitments in Anthony Harris (Vikings) and Justin Simmons (Broncos). New England’s Joe Thuney and Washington’s Brandon Scherff are rare interior offensive lineman to be slapped with the franchise tag. At the same time, disgruntled edge defender Yannick Ngakoue remains with the Jacksonville Jaguars despite an outstanding trade demand.
Pass rusher Myles Garrett did manage to land a significant long-term deal from the Cleveland Browns. Garrett signed a five-year extension worth $125 million, with $50 million of that sum fully guaranteed. The agreement makes Garrett the highest-paid defender in the NFL, and eliminates any concern surrounding Garrett’s status with the Browns organization following last year’s season-ending suspension. Garrett is a game-changing superstar. His presence along the defensive line will be a driving force in Cleveland’s charge for the playoffs in 2020 and beyond.
Chiefs interior defensive lineman Chris Jones also signed a long-term extension, surprising many considering the assumed tension between the two parties. Jones agreed to a four-year deal worth $85 million, a paltry sum for the Chiefs considering Jones’s place among the best in the NFL at his position. Only 26 years old, Jones projects to remain a disruptive force for the duration of the contract. There’s also a high likelihood he nets another high-dollar deal when this one expires. With moves to lock up Mahomes and Jones long-term during the past few weeks, Kansas City is set up to make a run at consecutive championships.
Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffrey has been battling a foot injury. It is becoming increasingly likely that he will begin the season on the PUP list. Without a timetable to return, Jeffrey starting the season on the PUP list would sideline him for at least six games. Without Jeffrey, the Eagles are looking at a receiving corps loaded with question marks. Rookie Jalen Reagor is slated for a significant role, and 2019 second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will look to improve upon a disastrous debut season. Veteran deep threat Marquise Goodwin could emerge as a viable option, while Desean Jackson remains rostered despite off-field statements that deserve further scrutiny. Philadelphia may be forced to enter the 2020 season with a passing attack built around its two elite tight ends, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.