My Life Needs Franchise Tags: Franchise Tag 101 & Who Was Tagged in 2016

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Sometimes I wish my life was handled like an NFL football team.

For instance, the use of tags each year in the NFL (exclusive franchise, non-exclusive franchise and transition tags) all allow football teams to maintain continuity and parity by retaining essential free agent players that might be looking to go elsewhere.  And I certainly could use that in my life.

If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that I have a favorite Starbucks barista.  He’s super important because he (1) allows me to cut the line at Starbucks in the morning, (2) has my usual specific coffee order ready to go almost immediately and (3) always “mistakenly” writes “Juan” on the side of my cup instead of “Wong”.  Perhaps that last one isn’t so important, but I’ve grown rather fond of “Juan” over the last couple years, but it’s probably due to the Pavlovian association between hearing “coffee for Juan” and receiving my morning dose of hyper-caffeination.  But I digress.

I'm such a sucker for marketing.

I’m such a sucker for marketing.

Point is, that my Starbucks closed down about half a year ago and my barista got reassigned.  Sure, I pass about 20 Starbucks between my apartment and my office in the morning, but if only I could have “franchise tagged” my barista, that would have been much more awesome.  And while I’m at it, I probably would have “franchise tagged” my barber, who is a former UFC fighter, my wife, so that I can continue making stupid mistakes throughout life without suffering the consequences, and perhaps the one cook that doesn’t overcook my burger at the local diner so that I don’t always end up with hockey puck in a bun for lunch.  Oh, and I certainly wouldn’t have tagged George Lucas after the Star Wars Prequels, as clearly he has no idea how to write dialog, cast good actors with on screen chemistry, or not be racist when creating new alien life forms.

I'm Jar Jar Binks, and I've managed to offend just about everyone, mostly because I'm a horrible character.

I’m Jar Jar Binks, and I really wish J.J. Abrams was in charge when I was in Star Wars.

Anyway, let’s turn back to what you actually care about, the NFL.  NFL tags were due today (Tuesday, March 1), which significantly clears up the free agent landscape.  There are plenty of places to find out who got tagged this year, but if you’re too busy to go jumping around the internet, we got you covered.  Don’t know what a “tag” is in the NFL?  Well, we got you covered there too!

What’s a Tag?

nfl-owners-meeting franchise tag

No, it has nothing to do with that scratchy label that you have on the back of your t-shirt.  But it sometimes can be just as annoying.  Let me give you the top line definitions to help you out.

Exclusive Franchise Tag

An exclusive franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. The players team has all negotiating rights with the player, thus, the player cannot negotiate with other teams.

Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag

Exactly the same as the exclusive variant, a non-exclusive franchise player must also be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. The difference is that a non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the offer, or let the player go and receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Transition Tag

A transition tag can be used only if no franchise tag is used in the same year. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the team a right of first-refusal to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another team. If the team matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.  The transition tag can be rescinded, but it can’t be used again in the same year.

After the players have been tagged, there’s still a set time (until July 15) for a long term contract to be negotiated.  But, at a minimum, they either won’t be able to talk to other teams, or will have limitations come the beginning of free agency at 4 p.m. (ET) on March 9.

Tag, You’re It!

And now that the deadline for tags has passed, lets turn to who was tagged in 2016!

Baltimore Ravens – Justin Tucker, K

As a side note with Tucker, his franchise tag amount is more than his first four years of salary COMBINED.  Not too shabby.

Buffalo Bills – Cordy Glenn, OT

Carolina Panthers – Josh Norman, CB (Non-Exclusive)

Chicago Bears – Alshon Jeffery, WR (Non-Exclusive)

Denver Broncos – Von Miller, OLB (Exclusive)

Kansas City Chiefs – Eric Berry, S

Los Angeles Rams – Trumaine Johnson, CB (Non-Exclusive)

Miami Dolphins – Olivier Vernon, DE (Transitional)

New York Jets – Muhammad Wilkerson, DE (Non-Exclusive)

Washington Redskins – Kirk Cousins, QB (Non-Exclusive)

How Much are they Getting Paid?

Want to know how much the franchise and transition tags are worth in 2016?  Well, the NFL released those numbers just recently (franchise tag / transition tag):

  • Quarterback: $19,953,000 / $17,696,000
  • Defensive end: $15,701,000 / $12,734,000
  • Wide receiver: $14,599,000 / $12,268,000
  • Linebacker: $14,129,000 / $11,925,000
  • Cornerback: $13,952,000 / 11,913,000
  • Offensive lineman: $13,706,000 / $11,902,000
  • Defensive tackle: $13,615,000 / $10,875,000
  • Running back: $11,789,000 / $9,647,000
  • Safety: $10,806,000 / $9,116,000
  • Tight end: $9,118,000 / $7,713,000
  • Punter/Place kicker: $4,572,000 / $4,123,000


Interested in NFL Contracts generally?  Well, check out our NFL Contracts 101 article!

Have questions about anything?  Feel free to fire away!  Otherwise, keep checking back as we keep track of NFL free agency once it opens on March 9!

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