Seven NFL players entered Friday about to be officially labeled franchise tag players for the 2016 season, and only three of them signed long-term extensions ahead of a 4 p.m. ET deadline to avoid the designation.
Linebacker Von Miller (Broncos), defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets) and kicker Justin Tucker (Ravens) beat the deadline and signed multi-year deals. That left Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, Chiefs safety Eric Berry, Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson to sign one-year franchise tags that will pay them the average of the top five players at their positions.
None of those four players entered Friday seeming like a safe bet to get a deal, and Berry's negotiations reportedly took the strangest turn. He returned to Pro Bowl form in 2015 after battling back from a lymphoma diagnosis the previous season, and the Chiefs apparently were looking to guard themselves against further health problems -- at Berry's expense, according to NFL Network.
Now Berry, Cousins, Jeffery and Johnson will face a season with a big paycheck but without the security of a long-term deal that could have included far more guaranteed money.