Jacksonville Jaguars’ history with the franchise tag
The Jacksonville Jaguars are approaching three decades in the NFL and that has meant using the franchise tag a few times along the way.
If the Jaguars use it this offseason — perhaps to retain tight end Evan Engram or right tackle Jawaan Taylor — that’d make it four straight seasons of designating a franchise player.
But prior to the current stretch of tagging players, there were significant stretches where the Jaguars didn’t use the tag at all.
Altogether, Jacksonville has used the franchise tag nine times and has never used the rare transition tag. Here is every time the Jaguars have designated someone a franchise player:
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2022: OT Cam Robinson - $16,662,000
Sep 19, 2021; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74) against the Denver Broncos at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Robinson became one of the rare players to receive the tag in back-to-back years when the Jaguars used it on him in 2022. Unlike the year prior, Jacksonville locked down Robinson on an extension.
The three-year, $54 million deal averaged out to be a little more pricy than the $16.662 million tag, but it dropped his cap hit by $9 million for the 2022 season. Those savings won’t be there in 2023 and 2024, though, when Robinson is due to count more than $22 million against the Jaguars in both seasons.
2021: OT Cam Robinson - $13,754,000
Oct 18, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74) and running back Chris Thompson (34) block against Detroit Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara (95) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
The Jaguars first used the tag to retain Robinson after the 2020 season. With Trevor Lawrence as the clear top option for the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft, it made sense for Jacksonville to protect his blindside by keeping their 2017 second-round pick on the blindside.
2020: DE Yannick Ngakoue - $17,788,000
Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Indianapolis.
Ngakoue was a massive part of the scary 2017 Jaguars defense that carried the team to the AFC Championship. The 2016 third-round pick had 37.5 sacks in only four seasons in Jacksonville, landing him second on the team’s all-time sack list.
The relationship between Ngakoue and the Jaguars quickly turned sour, though. The pass rusher held out in 2019 in hunt of a new deal, but was reportedly offered just a short-term deal by the team. Ngakoue was franchised, but made it clear he had no interest in staying with the Jaguars.
Eventually — after a public spat with Jaguars executive Tony Khan — Ngakoue was traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2021 second-round pick that was eventually used to pick offensive tackle Walker Little.
2012: K Josh Scobee - $2,654,000
Sep 14, 2014; Landover, MD, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee (10) attempts a field goal against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
A sub-$3 million franchise tag almost looks silly given the way salaries in the NFL have inflated over the last decade. Even franchising a kicker today costs more than double what the Jaguars used to retain Scobee in 2012.
About four months after the Jaguars gave the tag to their kicker, Scobee and the team came to terms on a four-year contract extension. He was in the final year of his contract when Jacksonville cut ties during the 2015 season.
2011: TE Marcedes Lewis - $7,285,000
Oct 22, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis (89) catches a pass in the end zone for a touchdown against Indianapolis Colts safety Matthias Farley (41) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
When the rookie contract ended for Lewis, the Jaguars used the franchise tag to keep him from hitting the market and eventually reached a five-year extension with the team. Lewis played out that deal and signed another three-year deal with the Jaguars.
Lewis played only two seasons on that contract before the Jaguars cut him in 2018 thinking he was over the hill. Five years later and Lewis is still playing in the NFL as one of the oldest players in the league.
2005: S Donovin Darius - $4,968,000
Oct 3, 2004; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars Donovin Darius warms up before his game against the Indianapolis Colts at Alltel Stadium. The Colts beat the Jaguars 24-17.
Mandatory Credit: Preston Mack-USA TODAY Sports
(©) Copyright 2004 by Preston Mack
Long before Robinson received the tag in back-to-back seasons, Darius got it a ridiculous three straight seasons. The only other players who can say the same are Hall of Fame offensive tackles Orlando Pace and Walter Jones.
After playing under the tag the first two times, Darius finally reached a three-year deal with the Jaguars in 2005.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Darius struggled with injuries immediately after signing the contract. He tore his ACL early in the 2005 season, broke his leg in 2006, and was released during the 2007 offseason not long after the team drafted Reggie Nelson.
2004: S Donovin Darius - $4,113,000
Oct 1, 2006; Landover, MD, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio talks to safety (20) Donovin Darius during the game against the Washington Redskins at Fedex Field in Landover. Mandatory Credit: Photo by Pouya Dianat-USA TODAY Sports © Copyright Pouya Dianat
Jacksonville couldn’t reach a long-term agreement with Darius after tagging him a second time, but he forced the team’s hand again with his best ever season in 2004. Darius finished with five interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and 89 tackles — all career highs.
2003: S Donovin Darius - $3,043,000
Nov 5, 2006; Jacksonville, FL, USA: Tennessee Titans quarterback (10) Vince Young attempts to elude Jacksonville Jaguars strong safety (20) Donovin Darius during the 2nd quarter at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, FL. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports Copyright © 2006 Jason Parkhurst
Darius received the tag for the first time in 2003 after the conclusion of his rookie contract. The former first-round pick had developed into a leader for the Jaguars defense, which was one of the NFL’s best during much of the aughts.
2000: DE Tony Brackens - $4,253,000
JACKSONVILLE, FL – OCTOBER 6: Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles throws the ball while defended by Tony Brackens #90 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the game on October 6, 2002 at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars won 28-25. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The Jaguars’ all-time sack leader was due to become a free agent after his Pro Bowl season in 1999, which included two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a very memorable touchdown in the playoffs.
After becoming the first player in franchise history to receive the tag, Brackens signed a five-year extension with the Jaguars just before the start of the 2000 season. He was eventually released in 2004 amid leg injuries and retired with 55 career sacks.