One of the NFL’s big deadlines is fast approaching this week. By 4:00 PM Eastern Time on Wednesday (March 1st), teams must make their decisions about any players receiving the Franchise or Transition tags, which would restrict the ability of those players to pursue opportunities on the free agent market.
Although the tag amounts have not been finalized yet (in part because the Salary Cap itself has not been locked in), there are a couple of rules that they follow. Here is the language from the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement:
Franchise Tag: “(A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position ... or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.”
Transition Tag: “(A) the Cap Percentage Average of the ten largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position ... or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.”
Got all that? It’s expensive, and here’s a link to the tag amounts for the 2016 season — keep in mind that the numbers will increase somewhat with the cap for 2017.
Arizona Cardinals: EDGE Chandler Jones (non-exclusive)
Jones became the first player tagged this offseason on Monday, February 27th. The New England Patriots traded him to Arizona during the 2016 offseason in exchange for guard Jonathan Cooper and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Now the Cardinals will keep him around for 2017 — perhaps longer if they can come to a long-term agreement.
Carolina Panthers: DT Kawann Short (clarification pending)
Though the Carolina Panthers have yet to make it official, it appears they have placed the franchise tag on defensive tackle Kawann Short. Short had a monstrous 2015 campaign, helping the team win 15 games and earn a trip to Super Bowl 50. Short looked less dominant last season, however, leading to speculation that the Panthers might let him walk. While they could rescind the tag at any time -- this happened last offseason with cornerback Josh Norman -- it appears at this time that Short remains in the team’s plans moving forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
Reported first by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Bell goes off the free-agent market, as expected. Frankly, this would have been a huge shock had Bell not been tagged, as he is one of the NFL’s most versatile and productive running backs.
New York Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Short a few fingers? That’s no problem for JPP, who is getting the tag (according to Pro Football Talk). A year after recording just one sack in eight games, he bounced back with seven in 2016 while playing in 12 games.
San Diego Chargers: EDGE Melvin Ingram
This one is no surprise as well, and with Ingram’s tag, that takes three of the top edge rushers off the market. That could well leave Nick Perry as the top free agent option, which would make it less likely that the Packers could bring him back.
Washington: QB Kirk Cousins (exclusive)
Cousins returns on the tag for the second straight season, and this time he will earn around $24 million.
Los Angeles Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson
Bummer - this takes one of the top free agent corners off the market. The 6’2” Johnson gets tagged for the second straight season.
None so far
Will not be tagged
New England Patriots: LB Dont’a Hightower (link)