By The Associated Press (AP) — The Latest on NFL’s free agency. Teams were required to use franchise tags on players by noon EDT Monday. Teams can negotiate with representatives of free agents for the next two days but cannot finalize any agreements. (all times local):
The Bengals used their franchise tag on A.J. Green, giving them time to try to work out a long-term deal with the star who is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history and would be a vital part of breaking in a new quarterback.
Green, 31, wants to finish his career in Cincinnati, where he has put down roots. Although he’s open to a multi-year extension that would pay him as an elite receiver, he has objected to staying for only one more season on a franchise designation.
Green has said he’ll skip voluntary offseason workouts if he’s tagged. The Bengals are expected to take Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow or another quarterback with the first overall pick in the draft, and having Green in offseason workouts would accelerate a rookie’s development.
The Bengals are free to negotiate with Green on a long-term deal through July 15.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed their franchise tag on linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL in sacks last season.
The move had been anticipated ever since coach Bruce Arians stated late last season that the 27-year-old Barrett “ain’t going anywhere” after setting a team record with 19½ sacks in 2019.
Barrett signed a one-year, $4 million contract in free agency with the Bucs last winter after spending the first five seasons of his career with the Denver Broncos. The franchise tag for an outside linebacker calls for a salary of about $16 million for 2020.
The decision to place the franchise tag on Barrett also means quarterback Jameis Winston will become an unrestricted free agent if Tampa Bay does not re-sign the No. 1 overall pick from the 2015 draft by Wednesday.
Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards last season, but also became the first player in league history to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a season.
The Patriots have placed a franchise tag on Patriots left guard Joe Thuney, his agent Michael McCartney said in a tweet shortly before the start of the legal tampering period.
Thuney, a third-round pick in 2016, has been one of the most dependable pieces on the Patriots’ offensive line over the past four seasons. The nonexclusive tag is expected to cost the Patriots around $14.7 million this upcoming season.
If he had hit free agency Thuney was expected to be one of the most sought-after guards on the market. He has not missed a single game and wasn’t whistled for a single penalty in 2019.
— Kyle Hightower, reporting from Boston
The Minnesota Vikings have placed the franchise tag on safety Anthony Harris, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.
The person spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the one-year, $11.441 million contract was not finalized. Harris was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, after a breakout 2019 season.
The Vikings cleared salary-cap space to keep Harris by agreeing to a two-year, $66 million contract extension with quarterback Kirk Cousins that reduced his salary-cap hit for 2020 by $10 million. The Vikings also agreed to a new four-year, $12.25 million contract with fullback C.J. Ham, who was set to be a restricted free agent.
— Dave Campbell reporting from Minneapolis ___
The Atlanta Falcons will dramatically boost their financial flexibility by releasing three high-priced veterans — running back Devonta Freeman, cornerback Desmond Trufant and offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo.
The Falcons announced the Sambrailo move on Monday. The team is finalizing the moves with Freeman and Trufant, former Pro Bowl players who had been considered foundation players for the franchise. Financial constraints made the moves necessary.
The cuts will clear $12.15 million in salary cap space before Wednesday’s start of free agency. Before the moves, the Falcons ranked 31st in the league with less than $1 million in cap space.
Freeman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, ran for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons ranked only 30th in the league in rushing with 85.1 yards per game and now may look for help at running back in free agency and the NFL draft.
Freeman hasn’t played a full season since his second Pro Bowl season in 2016, the last year he ran for at least 1,000 yards. He played in only two games in 2018.
The 29-year-old Trufant was a first-round pick in 2013. Trufant started nine games last season before he was placed on injured reserve with a broken forearm. He has 13 interceptions in his seven-year career, including a career-high four last season.
Sambrailo signed a three-year deal before the 2019 season but played in 13 games only as a backup. The Falcons drafted Kaleb McGary last year to start at right tackle, and Jake Matthews is a fixture at left tackle.
___ 12:50 p.m.
The Buffalo Bills have announced re-signing offensive lineman Quinton Spain to a three-year contract.
The deal with the pending unrestricted free agent was agreed to Thursday. Spain was completing a one-year contract he signed with Buffalo a year ago as part of the team’s major overhaul of its offensive line.
Spain is a fifth-year player who started 16 games at left guard and finished with the second-most snaps on offense for the Bills last season.
Spain’s return assures Buffalo’s offensive line has the potential of returning fully intact.
— John Wawrow reporting from Buffalo, New York.
The Arizona Cardinals have placed the transition tag on running back Kenyan Drake, which allows the team to match any offer he receives from another team during free agency.
The Cardinals traded for Drake midway through last season and he quickly became a major part of their offense. The 26-year-old ran for 643 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games, including a four-touchdown game against Cleveland in Week 15.
The projected transition tag salary number for a running back is about $10 million, according to overthecap.com.
—David Brandt reporting.
The New York Giants have placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on defensive tackle Leonard Williams two before the 2015 first-round draft choice was to become an unrestricted free agent.
A franchise tag allows the two sides to work on a long-term contract. If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play this coming season under the one-year deal. His salary will be a calculation based on the average of the top five salaries from his position, expected to be around $16 million.
Williams is free to negotiate with other teams when the free agency signing period begins Wednesday. If he signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.
New York acquired Williams from the Jets for two draft choices on Oct. 29: a third-round selection in 2020 and a second choice that is a conditional fifth-rounder in 2021.
Williams is the first Giants player to receive a tag since another defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul, in 2015.
Williams played in eight games with five starts for the Giants. The former Southern California player had 26 tackles, a half-sack, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, two passes defended and a forced fumble.
The Giants also made a qualifying offer to placekicker Aldrick Rosas, a restricted free agent.
—Tom Canavan reporting.
The Kansas City Chiefs have placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Chris Jones, raising the possibility that the Pro Bowl defensive tackle will remain with the Super Bowl champions for at least one more season.
The nonexclusive tag means Jones must be offered a one-year contract for no less than the average of the top five salary cap hits at defensive tackle for the previous five years. It also means that if Jones signs an offer sheet from another team, the Chiefs can match that offer or let him go and receive two first-round picks as compensation.
Jones had 15 1/5 sacks two seasons ago, which spurred his desire for a long-term deal. He wound up skipping the entire offseason when that didn’t happen, but he returned in time for training camp and started 12 of 13 games. He finished with nine sacks and help the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl title since 1970.
—Dave Skretta reporting.
The Cleveland Browns opened free agency by placing a second-round tender on running back Kareem Hunt, who played eight games last season after returning from an NFL suspension.
Hunt is a restricted free agent and can negotiate with other teams about a contract. If he reaches an agreement elsewhere, Cleveland can match any offer. If the Browns decide not to match the offer, they would receive a second-round draft pick from the team that signs him.
The Browns also released veteran safety Morgan Burnett, creating another need as the team moves into free agency amid nationwide shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Burnett suffered a torn Achilles tendon last season and missed the final six games.
Cleveland also tendered exclusive tags to free agents Pharoah Brown, Dontrell Hilliard and KhaDarel Hodge.
Hunt was banned from the first eight games last season by the league or two physical altercations while he was with the Kansas City Chiefs. The Cleveland-area native was primarily a blocker for Pro Bowler Nick Chubb, but he rushed for 179 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 285 yards and a TD.
With more than $60 million of salary-cap space, Cleveland is expected to be active in free agency, with offensive tackle a priority.