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Franchise Tag deadline: NFL teams must tag players by 4pm

The NFL Franchise Tag deadline is upon us.

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL franchise tag deadline is 4pm ET today, meaning teams have up until that time to decide if they want to keep a pending free agent on a one-year, fully guaranteed contract. The deal would pay the player the average of the last five fracnhise tag numbers, meaning the players at each position would be paid in the top level of their peers, but it is only a one-year deal, which is why players get upset when the tag is applied.

Teams that do use the tag will have until 4pm ET on July 15 to sign the player to a long-term contract, rather than have him play under the franchise tag in 2015. Essentially, the tag give the team and the player more time to come to terms on a deal, while making sure the player will remain with the club.

The tag levels for this year are:

Quarterback - $18.51 million
Running back - $10.93 million
Wide receiver - $12.80 million
Tight end - $8.33 million
Offensive lineman - $12.92 million
Defensive tackle - $11.17 million
Defensive end - $14.78 million
Linebacker - $13.17 million
Cornerback - $13.05 million
Safety - $9.60 million
Kicker/punter - $4.12 million

There is another stipulation for the franchise tag that does not get discussed often, but does explain why the Detroit Lions are not using the franchise tag on defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The franchise tag uses the top five average for most players, but if 120-percent of a player's salary cap number from the previous season is more than the franchise tag number, that 120-percent salary is used. For Suh, who accounted for $22.4 million against the cap in 2014, that would make his 2015 franchise tag number not the $11.17 million of a defensive tackle by $26.9 million. That is why the Lions are forced to let Suh test the free agent market.

For the Miami Dolphins, there are two players who could see the franchise tag: tight end Charles Clay and defensive tackle Jared Odrick. It would be a surprise if either receives the tag, as the Dolphins are already in need of salary cap relief this year, and the team is reportedly trying to sign both to long-term deals. Could they decide to franchsie one so that do have the extra time to work out a new contract? Sure, but it does not seem likely.

Whatever the case, we will at least know the franchise tag answer by 4pm ET today.