FanPost

The Chiefs could be done with the franchise tag for a while

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -- JD

While I firmly believed it probably wasn't going to happen, congratulations to Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and his team for getting defensive tackle Chris Jones locked up. But now that contract is on the books, things could change.

The Chiefs have now used the franchise tag in back-to-back years. A year ago, Dee Ford's tag ended with a trade -- one that I think everyone knew was likely. Jones' tag, on the other hand, ended with a deal structured in a way none of us saw coming.

Let's look at the rest of the roster to see if any pending free agent for the next three offseasons are likely to be a candidate for a franchise tag.

2021 Unrestricted free agents

if there is a tag candidate from this group, I will be very surprised. Not all of these guys are even guaranteed to be a Chief six weeks from now, so something unexpected would have to happen to for the Chiefs to tag any of these players.

Among unexpected outcomes, the most likely would be that Watkins stays healthy and posts career numbers. Still, the wide receiver tag number is $16.8 million for this year. With four NFL receivers set to make more than that in 2020, it will probably go up by a little less than a million dollars next offseason.

Depending on the 2021 number, Watkins could possibly qualify for a 20% raise instead of the tag figure based on average salaries (more on that in a minute), but I'm not sure the Chiefs would want to stomach a fourth year with a major cap hit for him. Still, if he produces, a tag-and-trade would be possible.

Here's a dark-horse scenario: with so much attention being paid to Jones and Frank Clark, either Kpassagnon or Charlton could deliver a monster season out of nowhere -- like Shaquil Barrett did in 2019. But then, the Chiefs would have a third player with a $20 million-plus cap hit in a single position group.

If somehow Watkins -- or one of the defensive ends -- has a tag-worthy season, it would probably say more about the players around them than it does about the player himself. So I am pretty confident that the Chiefs will not tender a franchise tag in 2021 -- and if one of these unlikely scenarios takes place, it would be much more likely to end with a trade than a new deal..

2022 Unrestricted free agents

Assuming that Charvarius Ward and Andrew Wylie come back as restricted free agents 2021, they will also be unrestricted free agents in 2022.

There are a ton of big names in this group, but I'm still not sure there is a legitimate franchise tag candidate.

In 2021, Mathieu is currently set to be the highest paid safety in the league. He will easily fall under the seldom- seen stipulation that the franchise tag pays either the average top-5 salaries at the position over the previous five years or 120% of the player's previous salary -- whichever is higher. Mathieu's tag number would definitely be a 20% raise from his 2021 salary, which would probably give him a higher 2022 cap number than Chris Jones.

Because all offensive linemen are lumped together for franchise tag purposes, I'm not sure any of these offensive linemen would be likely; there will be two years of recent mega-deals given to left tackles factoring in to the offensive line cap number.

If Ward shows a big improvement during the next two seasons, I suppose it would be possible for him to be tagged -- though paying a good cornerback the salary of an elite cornerback is probably not good business.

Kelce could be an interesting candidate, but I have to think decisions about where he stands in 2022 will be made long before the franchise tag is an issue. In fact, with all of them over 30 in 2022, I think decisions about Kelce, Fisher, Schwartz and Mathieu will be made ahead of time -- and that the team will have moved on from at least one of them.

2023 Unrestricted free agents

If he's still on the team, Byron Pringle would also be on this list

Now we are into serious projection territory. Hill will be 29 going into the 2023 offseason. Though I don't see any reason why his speed can't age like DeSean Jackson's has, I think he will still be a top-10 receiver -- even if his speed has ticked off a bit. I also think that for however long Hill's career lasts, his particular circumstances will make him less likely to change teams than most players; he's finally getting his reputation and brand where he wants it to be -- and moving to a new city opens many doors he would probably prefer to stay closed. If a new deal is not worked out, I would think that one year on the franchise tag would probably still represent value relative to his position.

The other players require even more projection. I think if Thornhill comes back healthy and picks up where he left off, he will probably be a tag candidate-- that is, if he is not extended before then. For Hardman, much would have to go right for him to become an elite-level receiver deserving a franchise cap number -- though it is very possible. Even if their careers go well, I doubt Saunders, Fenton or Allegretti will ever be tag candidates. And I will be shocked if Hitchens is still a Chief for the 2022 season.

If I had to put money on the next most likely franchise tag candidate during the next three offseasons, I'd go with Juan Thornhill in 2023.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.