Monday afternoon marked the end of the franchise tag and transition tag period, with teams able to use a tag on one player to prevent him from reaching the free agent market next week. This year, four players received the franchise tag, while two received the rarely used transition tag.
There are actually two different types of franchise tags that can be used, with teams deciding to designate a player with the "exclusive" tag or the "non-exclusive" version. The exclusive franchise tag prevents a player from signing with another team, with the player offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period on May 2; or (ii) the amount of the Required Tender for a "non-exclusive" franchise player, as explained below.
The non-exclusive tag allows the player to negotiate a new contract with another team, but that team would have to provide as compensation two first round draft picks.
Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the "Cap Percentage Average," for calculating the Required Tender for such a player:
The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position...at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years...; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year...(the "Cap Percentage Average"); or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater.
This year, no player received the exclusive franchise tag. The non-exclusive tag was applied to Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, New York Jets kicker Nick Folk, and Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.
The transition tag offers the player the greater of (i) the average of the top ten prior year salaries at the player's position, which average is calculated using the same methodology used for non-exclusive franchise players (the Cap Percentage Average); or (ii) 120% of his prior year salary. The transition tag allows the player the ability to negotiate a contract with another team, but gives the original team the right of first refusal. If the original team declines to match the offer, no draft picks are provided as compensation.
The salary cap numbers for the 2014 non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag are:
|Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag||Transition Tag|
|Running Back||$9,540,000||Running Back||$8,033,000|
|Wide Receiver||$12,132,000||Wide Receiver||$10,176,000|
|Tight End||$7,053,000||Tight End||$6,106,000|
|Offensive Lineman||$11,654,000||Offensive Lineman||$10,039,000|
|Defensive End||$13,116,000||Defensive End||$10,633,000|
|Defensive Tackle||$9,654,000||Defensive Tackle||$8,060,000|