The franchise tag is 1 of the first offseason decisions NFL teams must make. And it’s a decision that will impact moves in free agency and the draft.
The franchise tag allows teams to sign 1 impending free agent to a 1-year contract. The player’s pay is based on the average salary of the top 5 highest-paid players at his position over the past 5 years. The franchise tagee can sign with another team, but that would cost the other team a pair of 1st-round draft picks. In other words, a player who gets the franchise tag isn’t going anywhere.
Here are the estimated 2014 franchise-tag salaries for each position:
QB - $16.1 million
RB - $9.1 million
WR - $11.5 million
TE - $6.7 million
OL - $11.1 million
K/P - $3.4 million
DT - $9.2 million
DE - $12.5 million
LB - $10.9 million
CB - $11.3 million
S - $8.0 million
Teams have a 2-week window between February 17 and March 3 to slap a player with the franchise tag. Don’t expect to see much action until a day or 2 before that deadline.
The biggest 2014 franchise tag storyline will swirl around Jimmy Graham. The Saints will certainly tag him if they can’t work out a long-term deal. But will it be as a TE, the position Graham is listed at? Or WR, where Graham takes the majority of his snaps? Almost $5 million is at stake there.
Baltimore’s Dennis Pitta, who actually played a higher percentage of his snaps out wide or in the slot than Graham this past year, might also argue for WR money if tagged.
Other potential franchise tagees include Raiders LT Jared Veldheer, Panthers DE Greg Hardy, Seahawks DE Michael Bennett, Redskins LB Brian Orakpo, Patriots CB Aqib Talib, Bills S Jairus Byrd and Browns S T.J. Ward.
We’ll keep a running list of 2014 franchise tags below …
Saints TE Jimmy Graham
Panthers DE Greg Hardy
Jets K Nick Folk
Redskins LB Brian Orakpo
Browns C Alex Mack (transition tag)
Steelers LB Jason Worilds (transition tag)