What is the franchise tag?

Posted Mar 1, 2017

The 2017 offseason is off and running. Wednesday marks the first day that teams can place the franchise tag on key free agents. But what exactly is the franchise tag?

A franchise tag can be placed on a star player who is out of contract and that player is then paid the average of the top five at his position or 120 per cent of his previous salary. It is placed upon star players to prevent them from hitting free agency and to keep big names on their existing teams.

There are a couple of types of franchise tag. An exclusive tag means the player is paid at the above rate and cannot negotiate with another team. Or a non-exclusive tag means the player is paid at the aforementioned rate but can negotiate a long-term deal with another team. If he signs with a new team, his old team receives two first round draft choices as compensation.

Teams can rescind the franchise or transition tag - as we saw with Josh Norman last year - if the offer sheet hasn't been signed. Once the sheet is signed, the player's salary is guaranteed for that season. A rescinded tag counts as a tag, meaning a team can't designate one player, rescind it and use a new tag on another player in the same year.

So far in 2017 the following players have been tagegd by their teams:

  • Le'Veon Bell - Pittsburgh Steelers - Running Back 
  • Kawann Short - Carolina Panthers - Defensive Tackle
  • Kirk Cousins - Washington Redskins - Quarterback
  • Chandler Jones - Arizona Cardinals - Linebacker
  • Melvin Ingram - Los Angeles Chargers - Linebacker
  • Jason Pierre-Paul - New York Giants - Defensive End

The current franchise numbers aren't available until the NFL's salary cap opens, but below is a rundown of the 2016 franchise tag salaries to use as a baseline (assume these numbers will get bumped up). Via the NFLPA:

  • Quarterback: $19.953 million
  • Defensive end: $15.701 million
  • Wide Receiver: $14.599 million
  • Linebacker: $14.129 million
  • Cornerback: $13.952 million
  • Offensive line: $13.706 million
  • Defensive tackle: $13.615 million
  • Running back: $11.789 million
  • Safety: $10.806 million
  • Tight End: $9.118 million
  • Kicker/Punter: $4.599 million

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wessling list the Top 101 2017 Free Agents here.

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