Do the Saints have any franchise tag candidates in 2023?
The window to use the franchise tag has opened, with tough decisions ahead of the New Orleans Saints. But do they even have any franchise tag candidates in 2023? Sure, the team has several free agents who should command real interest on the open market — starters like defensive linemen Marcus Davenport and David Onyemata rank high among their peers, and high-upside talents like linebacker Kaden Elliss and tight end Juwan Johnson should draw attention from other teams — but it’s really difficult to see the Saints using the tag and guaranteeing a ton of money to one of those players that can’t be restructured or moved around in any way.
Between their precarious salary cap outlook and their lack of high-dollar candidates, it just isn’t feasible. And that’s not to mention how poorly things went for the Saints the last time they used the franchise tag. Sure, it kept free safety Marcus Williams in town another year, but they weren’t able to agree on a long-term contract extension and he bolted for the Baltimore Ravens last offseason without returning any compensation to New Orleans. The money allotted for his tag could have been better put to use retaining someone like pass rusher Trey Hendrickson on a long-term deal, but oh well.
Let’s touch on each of those free agents and what it would cost the Saints to tag them (showing why it isn’t a realistic option) before the window shuts in two weeks:
DE Marcus Davenport
(AP Photo/Derick Hingle
2023 franchise tag: $19,727,000
DT David Onyemata
AP Foto/Brian Blanco, Archivo
2023 franchise tag: $18,937,000
LB Kaden Elliss
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
2023 franchise tag: $20,926,000
TE Juwan Johnson
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Johnson is actually not eligible for the franchise tag, because he is a restricted free agent (we talked about the ways he and the Saints can stay together here). But if he did carry unrestricted status like these other players, the cost of using the franchise tag would be $11,345,000.