The 4 p.m. Tuesday deadline to apply the franchise tag passed without the Ravens using the designation on outside linebackers Mathew Judon or Yannick Ngakoue, meaning the two edge rushers will be free to sign deals with other teams unless they reach an agreement with the Ravens before the start of free agency March 17.
Neither player was expected to receive the franchise tag, worth over $17 million in 2021 for a defensive end, with the Ravens’ limited cap room.
Judon played the 2020 season under the franchise tag and would have been due for a sizable increase in salary if tagged for a second straight year. The Ravens traded a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick for Ngakoue, a former Maryland standout, who recorded three sacks in 11 games.
Depending on the deals they get and whom the Ravens sign, the team could earn a pair of top compensatory picks in 2021 if both leave in free agency.
General manager Eric DeCosta was asked earlier Tuesday whether the team had given serious thought to giving Judon or Ngakoue the franchise tag.
“We look at all of that. It’s such a difficult thing, because we don’t know what the salary cap is going to actually be yet; we still haven’t been told,” he said during a virtual NFL scouting combine news conference, hours before the deadline passed.
“So, there are a lot of moving parts and these things are very fluid. There are a lot of different ways we can go, and we still have time to make those decisions. So, we’ve definitely talked about a lot of different scenarios with our roster, free agency, players under contract, impending free agents [and] players available on other teams. We look at all that stuff; we’ve been doing that really since November. When the time comes, we’ll have a game plan and we’ll be ready to attack.”
Ten players were tagged across the league, including Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin.