The National Football League goes through this every year and the season that the 32 NFL organizations use for the betterment of the team and players despise has come.
Wednesday, February 15, starts the two-week window in which NFL teams can choose to use the franchise tag on impending free agents. Teams may only use one tag in any given year and the period ends at 4 p.m. ET on March 1.
Two slightly different versions of the franchise tag are available to teams. The most common is the non-exclusive tag, which a one-year tender for the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years – or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary, if that total is greater.
The non-exclusive tag allows the player to negotiate as a free agent, but his current team has the right to match any deal or receive two first-round picks as compensation if it declines to match.
The exclusive tag is a one-year tender worth the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position in the previous year (or 120 percent of the players previous salary) and does not allow the player to negotiate with other teams.
The transition tag is also a one-year tender. It is worth the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. It allows the players to negotiate with other teams and provides the tagging team the right to match any offer, but provides no compensation if it does not match.
Tags can be rescinded like last year when the Carolina Panthers took the tag off of cornerback Josh Norman and let him go test out the free market (Norman signed with Washington for). The Miami Dolphins also rescinded Olivier Vernon‘s transition tag right before free agency began.
Players can be tagged multiple times, but can come with a hefty price. If a player is tagged in back-to-back years, he must receive a tender that is 120 percent of his initial tag level. It grows to 144 percent of that second year number if a team wants to use the tag a third straight year.
The estimates list below are based on an approximated $168.1 million salary cap.
- Quarterbacks: $21.41M
- Defensive Ends: $17.05M
- Linebackers: $14.64M
- Cornerbacks: $14.31M
- Offensive Linemen: $14.37M
- Wide Receivers: $15.78M
- Defensive Tackles: $13.47M
- Running Backs: $12.20M
- Safeties: $10.97M
- Tight Ends: $9.84M
- Kickers/Punters: $4.87M
Candidates for the tag:
- Kirk Cousins (QB) – Washington
- LeVeon Bell (RB) – Pittsburgh Steelers
- Terrelle Pryor (WR) – Cleveland Browns
- Alshon Jeffery (WR) – Chicago Bears
- Kawann Short (DT) – Carolina Panthers
- Chandler Jones (OLB) – Arizona Cardinals
- A.J. Bouye (CB) – Houston Texans
- Eric Berry (S) – Kansas City Chiefs
*NOTE: Eric Berry has said multiple times this past season that he would not play under a second consecutive franchise tag. Because this would be his second consecutive year with the franchise tag; he would make $12.97M, that’s $2M over the franchise tag safety average. Berry wants a long-term deal and will not settle for anything less.