The Ravens do not plan to use the franchise tag on pending unrestricted free agent C.J. Mosley, a representative for the All-Pro linebacker told ESPN.
By designating Mosley with the franchise tag, the Ravens would have committed about $15.4 million to the former first-round draft pick for the 2019 season. The deadline to place the binding one-year tag is 4 p.m. Tuesday.
Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta has said he expects Mosley to return to Baltimore, and said at the NFL scouting combine that he expected negotiations with Mosley’s agent to continue in Indianapolis. The Ravens hope to reach a long-term deal with Mosley, their top free-agent target this offseason, but DeCosta has stressed the need for prudent salary cap management.
Other teams are allowed to contact Mosley beginning next Monday, and free agency officially begins at 4 p.m. March 13.
The high cost of the franchise tag always made the designation for Mosley unlikely. Carolina Panthers star Luke Kuechly is the NFL's highest-paid inside linebacker, earning $12.4 million annually — about $3 million less than what Mosley would be owed.
But the team’s coaching staff and front office have long hailed Mosley’s importance to the Ravens’ future. Despite criticism of his ability in pass coverage, the 26-year-old made his fourth Pro Bowl and earned second-team All-Pro honors for the fourth time this past season. He helped the Ravens secure their first AFC North title since 2012 with his last-minute interception against the Cleveland Browns in the regular-season finale.
“Yeah, you’d rather have C.J. back,” Harbaugh said at the team’s end-of-season news conference. “There’s always the give and take, of course. There are limitations with money, but C.J. wants to be back and we want him back. I think that’s a really good formula for a player coming back. I’m just not even going to entertain the possibility right now that that wouldn’t happen. I’ll just assume that’s going to happen. That’s where I’m at.”