It’s a trend that was started—or at least accelerated—by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon. In March, the Ravens applied the non-exclusive franchise tag to Judon, which provided for him to be paid $15.828 million this season, as per NFL rules that apply to franchise players.
But with Judon set to argue that he is in fact a defensive end, the Ravens agreed to pay Judon $16.808 million this season, splitting the difference between what he would earn as a linebacker and the $17.788 million he would be paid if classified as a defensive end.
Judon’s negotiating success has apparently inspired other linebackers to try the same trick.
According to ESPN Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Shaquil Barrett has notified the Buccaneers that he has accepted his franchise tender, but “he has filed a grievance with the NFLPA to be tagged as a DE, not a LB…. There’s a $2 million difference between a DE and an LB.”
Bucs pass rusher Shaq Barrett has notified Tampa that he officially has accepted his franchise tender, but with an asterisk: he has filed a grievance with NFLPA to be tagged as a DE, not a LB, @RosenhausSports tells ESPN. There’s a $2 million diffference between a DE and an LB.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 10, 2020
See Also: Pittsburgh Steelers LB Bud Dupree
As noted, Barrett isn’t the only NFL linebacker to announce that he’s filed a grievance. Today we learned that Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Bud Dupree has filed a grievance with the NFLPA arguing that he too is a defensive end. Never mind that he has played the position of outside linebacker ever since he was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Or that he accepted and signed his $15.828 million franchise tender on April 23.
Jadeveon Clowney, currently an unrestricted free agent, had a similar case last year, when he wanted the Houston Texans to pay him as a defensive end, as opposed to a linebacker. The difference in pay was $1.698 million in 2019.
13 Players Have Received the Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag in 2020
In addition to Judon, Barrett and Dupree, ten other players have been designated with the non-exclusive franchise tag in 2020.
According to NFL.com, those players are: running back Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans), wide receiver A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals), tight end Hunter Henry (Los Angeles Chargers), offensive guard Brandon Scherff (Washington Redskins), offensive guard Joe Thuney (New England Patriots), defensive tackle Chris Jones (Kansas City Chiefs), defensive tackle Leonard Williams (New York Giants), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville Jaguars), safety Anthony Harris (Minnesota Vikings) and safety Justin Simmons (Denver Broncos).
A player who receives the non-exclusive franchise tag can negotiate with other teams, but their own team holds the right of first refusal. That is, if a non-exclusive franchise player signs an offer sheet with another team, the player’s current team has five days to match the offer. If it declines to match, that team is entitled to draft-choice compensation equivalent to two first-round draft picks.
The position with the highest non-exclusive franchise tag salary in 2020 is quarterback at $26.824 million. The only position with a franchise tag salary of less than $10 million is kicker/punter, which is $5.019 million.