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NFL Notes: Franchise Tags, Bears, Bengals, Rams

Franchise Tags

ESPN reporters provide their predictions regarding which NFL teams are most likely to use the franchise tag on one of their free agents.

  • Patriots: Mike Reiss would be surprised if the Patriots did not use the franchise tag on LB Dont’a Hightower if they are unable to reach an agreement on a long-term extension.
  • Browns: Pat McManoman writes that WR Terrelle Pryor is the Browns’ only option to use the franchise tag on this offseason, but he thinks Cleveland would prefer to sign him to a long-term extension rather than tag him.
  • Steelers: Jeremy Fowler says it’s an “easy call” for the Steelers to franchise RB Le’Veon Bell.
  • Texans: Although Sarah Bishop could see the Texans not using the franchise tag, she mentions CB A.J. Bouye as a possible candidate.
  • Chiefs: Adam Teicher could see the Chiefs using the franchise tag on either S Eric Berry or DT Dontari Poe, depending on which player does not sign an extension.
  • Giants: While Jordan Raanan believes DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DT Johnathan Hankins could both be candidates to receive the franchise tag, he considers it unlikely that either gets tagged in the coming weeks.
  • Redskins: John Keim writes that QB Kirk Cousins as the team’s only franchise tag candidate. However, Keim adds that by tagging Cousins, there would be “little incentive” for him to strike a long-term deal.
  • Bears: Jeff Dickerson says that if the Bears aren’t willing to commit a long-term deal to WR Alshon Jeffrey, then the franchise tag could the way to go for the 2017 season.
  • Panthers: David Newton expects the Panthers to use the franchise tag on DT  Kawann Short, given that HC Ron Rivera admitted that they may have to do so.
  • Cardinals: Josh Weinfuss writes the Cardinals will tag OLB Chandler Jones unless they can reach a long-term extension. This comes as no surprise, considering that Arizona has already confirmed as much.
  • Rams: Alden Gonzalez believes the Rams could use the franchise tag on CB Trumaine Johnson for the second time if they cannot sign him to an extension. Although, Gonzalez admits the $16.8 million tag price for Johnson could be too expensive for Los Angeles.

Bears

  • Adam Caplan reports that former Saints defensive assistant/linebackers coach James Willis is interviewing for the Bears assistant defensive line coaching job this week.

Bengals

Bengals free agent RT Eric Winston tells Sirius XM NFL Radio that he’s “very hopeful” of being back in Cincinnati next year.

“I’m very hopeful to be back in Cincinnati with the Bengals this coming year,” Winston said. “It looks promising to be back.

Rams

Rams RBs coach Skip Peete identified pass-blocking as the No. 1 area that RB Todd Gurley must improve on this offseason.

This is going to blow your mind,” said Peete, via Alden Gonzalez of ESPN. “It has nothing to do with the running game. I think the most important thing in this league, as far as a running back is concerned, is his ability to pass protect, whether it’s first or second down. Because they think it’s easy. They’ve all come into the league comfortable as a runner. But that aspect of it is a little bit different than you’re accustomed to coming out of college. He and I talk about that all the time — your ability to completely understand the blocking scheme, whether it’s run or pass.”