NFL franchises have until Friday, July 15 to negotiate long-term contracts with players they franchise tagged earlier this offseason. The approaching deadline typically helps jumpstart negotiations as both sides hope to avoid a contract-related conflict throughout training camp, one that could possibly carry over into the regular season. The status of several difference-making superstars hangs in the balance as we kick off a decisive week.
Four players whose contract situations are especially worth monitoring are Cincinnati Bengals safety Jessie Bates III, Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown, Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz, and Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki. All four players received the franchise tag and are looking to secure their futures prior to Friday’s deadline. Their individual situations remain fluid.
With the deadline set for later this week, we analyzed all four situations while making predictions on the impending outcome.
JESSIE BATES III: NO EXTENSION
Recent reports indicate the Bengals aren’t expected to reach an agreement with Bates on an extension prior to Friday’s deadline. The tag would pay Bates a fully guaranteed $12.911 million, per Spotrac, whereas a multi-year extension would likely carry an annual cap hit of $17-plus million. Bates’ representation could be looking to surpass the four-year, $70 million contract signed by Jamal Adams in August of last year.
Bates skipped organized team activities (OTAs) earlier this summer and has previously stated he possessed little to no interest in playing out the season on the tag. This ugly situation appears headed for a long-lasting standstill throughout July and August. The Bengals appear willing to call Bates’ bluff while hoping the second-team All-Pro shows up for work sooner rather than later.
DALTON SCHULZ: NEW DEAL
Potential Extension: Three years, $42M
The franchise tag is set to pay Schultz $10.9 million in 2022, but a long-term solution can be reached. Recent reports indicate the Cowboys remain in talks with Schultz’s representation regarding an extension before Friday. The extension signed by Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku ($56.75 million over four years) earlier this offseason undeniably complicated matters between Schultz and the Cowboys, but we foresee the two sides reaching a middle ground. A three-year extension worth approximately $42 million ($14 million annually) would qualify as a fair deal for all parties involved.
The Cowboys made some difficult financial decisions this offseason that included moving on from Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and La’el Collins while choosing to retain the likes of Schultz and Michael Gallup. Schultz remains in Dallas’ long-term plans. The two sides should manage to negotiate an appropriate extension that keeps Schultz in Dallas for the foreseeable future.
ORLANDO BROWN: NEW DEAL
Potential Extension: Five years, $97.5M
Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach essentially forfeited all negotiating power when he agreed to part with multiple draft selections, including a first-rounder in 2021, in exchange to acquire Brown’s services from the Baltimore Ravens. The franchise tag would pay Brown approximately $16.7 million (fully guaranteed) this season. The two sides should manage to reach a solution before Friday’s deadline.
Veach will want to secure Brown’s future with the franchise ahead of his scheduled free agency next offseason. An extension would approach $20 million annually. A five-year contract worth $97.5 million ($19.5 million annually) would make Brown one of the highest-paid offensive tackles across the entire NFL. Brown should protect Patrick Mahomes’ blindside for several years to come.
MIKE GESICKI: NO EXTENSION
The Dolphins completely revamped their offense this offseason via free agency and trades by acquiring Tyreek Hill, Terron Armstead, Connor Williams, Chase Edmonds, Cedrick Wilson Jr., and Sony Michel, to name a few. New Dolphins Head Coach Mike McDaniel is implementing a wide-zone, play-action system that is expected to substantially improve Miami’s offense. Gesicki is in Miami’s 2022 plans, but his future beyond this coming season hangs in the balance.
Gesicki signed his franchise tag that is scheduled to pay him $10.8 million earlier this offseason after denying the opportunity to file a grievance over being tagged as a tight end rather than a wide receiver. The NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo recently reported the Dolphins and Gesicki have yet to open talks on a long-term contract. At this juncture, all signs point to Friday’s deadline passing without Gesicki agreeing to an extension beyond 2022.
The Dolphins have invested a ton of capital into their offense this offseason and they likely want to see how Gesicki fits their new-look offense before investing even more dollars into that side of the ball.
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