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Jaguars place franchise tag on standout pass rusher Josh Allen, guaranteeing him $24M in 2024

FILE -Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Josh Allen (41) during an NFL football game against the Houston Texans Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Houston. The Jaguars used their franchise tag on standout pass rusher Josh Allen on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, essentially guaranteeing he will play at least another year in Jacksonville. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jaguars used their franchise tag on standout pass rusher Josh Allen on Tuesday, essentially guaranteeing he will play at least another year in Jacksonville.

Allen, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, set a single-season franchise record with 17½ sacks in the final year of his rookie contract and is 10 shy of the team’s career mark (55) held by Tony Brackens (1996-2003).

Jacksonville’s non-exclusive franchise tender, assuming Allen signs it, would guarantee him $24 million in 2024. The Jaguars and Allen have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal. If they don’t, Allen would be forced to play under the tag or sit out and risk losing millions.

The anticipated move followed the team's release of three defensive starters — cornerback Darious Williams, safety Rayshawn Jenkins and defensive tackle Foley Fatukasi — that created $20 million in salary cap space.

Allen has 45 sacks in 74 games spanning five seasons. The Virginia native and former Kentucky star was at his best in 2023, finishing with career highs in sacks, quarterback hits (33) and tackles (66). He started all 17 games for the second consecutive season and was voted to his second Pro Bowl.

The Jaguars have made it clear they want to sign him to a long-term deal. But general manager Trent Baalke said in January that the sides were “very far” apart because negotiations hadn’t started.

“I know Josh wants to be here. I know we want him here,” Baalke said. “Can we come to a number that works for everybody? That’s the key. I respect that. … You got to respect these guys that put themselves in this position. They work hard. They deserve to make good money.

“What good means to them could be different than what it means to us. We just got to come together, sit down at the table and work things out.”

Tagging Allen also means the Jaguars likely will risk losing receiver Calvin Ridley in free agency.

Ridley started all 17 games last season — his first after missing most of the previous two years because of a broken foot, a mental health break and a yearlong gambling suspension — and finished with 76 receptions for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns.

The Jags would have to give Atlanta a second-round pick if they sign Ridley before the new league year. They're more likely to wait and give up a third-round selection and settle for no guarantee Ridley remains in Jacksonville.

“Next year will be a better year for me, for sure,” Ridley said following the season finale. “Just to get this year under my belt was real important. … I got out of this season healthy. I know I’m a good player for sure. I feel young. I can run fast. It’s whoever wants a good player, I can tell you that.”

Ridley would be free to sign anywhere when free agency opens next week.

Jacksonville will be in the market for secondary help, a veteran center to compete with third-year pro Luke Fortner and replacements for backup pass rushers K’Lavon Chaisson and Dawuane Smoot.

Bringing back Ridley and guard Ezra Cleveland are high on Baalke’s to-do list. Signing Allen to a long-term deal should be his No. 1 priority, though.

Jacksonville declined to offer Allen a new contract before or during last season, instead choosing to make him play on a fifth-year option worth nearly $11 million. He likely would get around $30 million annually if he were to hit the open market.

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