Jeffery is in the prime of his career

The only franchise-tag candidate is wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. The Bears used the tag on Jeffery last season, and barring the completion of a long-term deal, they could apply the tag again to prevent Jeffery from testing free agency. However, Jeffery’s 2017 salary-cap number would be in excess of $17 million. Still, Jeffery is in the prime of his career. He has endured some well-documented setbacks (injuries and suspension) the past two seasons, but Jeffery is an upper-echelon player at his position. If the Bears aren’t ready to commit to a lavish multiyear agreement, then the franchise tag may be their only hope of keeping Jeffery in town for one more year.

Because the franchise tag figure is projected to be in the $14.5-15 million range, the transition tag would be a more affordable fallback option (projected to be in the $11 million range) for the team while it worked toward a potential long-term deal with Hightower. The transition tag would give the Patriots the right of first refusal on any contract Hightower might receive in free agency, thus providing the club some leverage.
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The potential issue, though, is that the team would be allowing another club to dictate terms of a contract it would be absorbing. Nonetheless, if the Patriots feel confident they are in position to match any offer — and feel the best strategic approach is to let the market dictate what Hightower ultimately receives — this could be the team’s best course of action.

In a vacuum, it’s easy to see that Johnson isn’t worth a second franchise tag; not when you consider that only one cornerback, Darrelle Revis, made more than $16 million on a base salary last year.
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Using the tag would essentially ensure his return in 2017 (it’s hard to imagine a team signing him to an offer sheet and giving up draft-pick compensation if the Patriots don’t match), which should help the defense continue to make positive strides after its strong finish to the 2016 season.

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