A few of the NFL’s top players were set to become unrestricted free agents next week, but many of them won’t be going anywhere because of the franchise tag. Even if they don’t come to terms on a long-term contract with their current teams, some potential free agents will be forced to stay their with teams for at least one more year.
Every NFL team has the right to use the franchise tag on one player that was on their roster the previous year and is without a contract for next season. A player that receives an exclusive franchise tag will receive a one-year contract worth no less than the average top-five salaries at their respective position. A nonexclusive franchise tag pays a player no less than the average top-five cap hits at their position.
With the 2016 salary cap set for more than $155 million, the official nonexclusive franchise tag numbers for next season have been determined, via CBS Sports. Quarterbacks lead the way with a $19.953 million salary, followed by defensive ends ($15.701 million), wide receivers ($14.599 million), linebackers ($14.129 million) and cornerbacks ($13.952 million).
Contract numbers for the exclusive tag won’t be known until the April 22 deadline for restricted free agents, but they will likely be similar to the nonexclusive tag salaries.
A transition tag can also be used instead of a franchise tag. It offers players an average of the top-10 salaries at their position, while giving teams the option to match any outside contract a player might get.
Teams are allowed to negotiate with other potential free agents on March 7, and players can officially sign with other teams on March 9. With free agency set to begin next week, a bunch of teams have already used their franchise tag on all of the top players that were set to hit the open market.
According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the New York Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson, the Chicago Bears’ Alshon Jeffery and the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker have all been hit with a franchise tag. The Carolina Panthers have tagged Josh Norman, and the Buffalo Bills are keeping offensive tackle Cordy Glenn.
Von Miller franchise tag is officially filed. It is the exclusive tag.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 1, 2016
The #Dolphins have chosen to transition tag DE Olivier Vernon, which gives them the right to match any offer. Interesting choice.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 1, 2016
After being named the Super Bowl 50 MVP, Von Miller is the best NFL player that was headed for free agency. He led the Denver Broncos with 11 sacks in the regular season, starting for the best defense in football. He has 60 sacks in 72 regular-season games, as well as 6.5 sacks in seven career playoff games.
Miller was possibly the most important player on Denver’s championship-winning team, and the Broncos were not going to allow him to test free agency, with or without a long-term deal. But receiving the tag doesn’t mean Miller won’t get the lengthy deal that he’s seeking. Players that receive the franchise tag have until July 15 to negotiate a long-term contract.
Last year, the Broncos used their franchise tag on wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The two sides eventually agreed to a five-year, $70 million contract, with $43.75 million in guaranteed money. Five NFL players were tagged last year, and only one failed to get a long-term deal before the deadline.
Jason Pierre-Paul was the only player that was franchised a year ago, but didn’t get an extension. He’s a free agent again in 2016, and the New York Giants won’t use their tag on him this year after he missed eight games because of a fireworks incident that injured his hand.
The Washington Redskins reportedly tagged Kirk Cousins, and Eric Berry was tagged by the Kansas City Chiefs.
Players not tagged, not that they ever were going to be, include: Sam Bradford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Doug Martin, Lamar Miller, Janoris Jenkins
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2016