What is an NFL franchise tag? How does it work? – ESPN

Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports

  • Alex Kennedy

Feb 23, 2024, 12:38 AM ET

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On February 20, the NFL’s two-week franchise tag window opened. Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on March 5 to tag one player on their roster who is slated to become an unrestricted free agent.

Here’s everything you need to know about franchise tags and how they work.

What is an NFL franchise tag?

The franchise tag is a tool that NFL teams can use to keep their best players from leaving in free agency. If a player is tagged, they receive a one-year tender.

What are the different types of NFL franchise tags?

There are three types of franchise tags: the non-exclusive tag, exclusive tag and transition tag.

NON-EXCLUSIVE TAG: This tag allows the player to sign an offer sheet with another team. The original team has the right to match the offer or receive two first-round draft picks in compensation if the player leaves. This is the most common type of tag.

EXCLUSIVE TAG: This tag completely binds the player to his team. His agent is prohibited from seeking an offer sheet.

TRANSITION TAG: This tag works like the nonexclusive franchise tag, except it only provides the original team the right to match the other team’s offer. If the original team decides not to offer a matching bid, it gets no compensation when the player leaves.

Once a player is tagged, the two sides have until July 15 to sign a long-term contract or, by NFL rule, the player will play on the one-year deal (or hold out).

How much do players earn on the franchise tag?

The value of the tag varies from position to position (and the type of tag).

The value of the nonexclusive tag is the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years or 120% of his previous salary (whichever is greater).

The value of the transition tag is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position.

QUARTERBACKS: $36.293 million (nonexclusive tag), $31.158 million (transition tag)

RUNNING BACKS: $11.326 million (nonexclusive tag), $10.104 million (transition tag)

WIDE RECEIVERS: $20.672 million (nonexclusive tag), $19.398 million (transition tag)

TIGHT ENDS: $12.027 million (nonexclusive tag), $10.564 million (transition tag)

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: $19.885 million (nonexclusive tag), $19.718 million (transition tag)

DEFENSIVE ENDS: $20.205 million (nonexclusive tag), $20.135 million (transition tag)

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: $20.943 million (nonexclusive tag), $15.798 million (transition tag)

LINEBACKERS: $22.748 million (nonexclusive tag), $18.730 million (transition tag)

CORNERBACKS: $18.762 million (nonexclusive tag), $15.889 million (transition tag)

SAFETIES: $16.224 million (nonexclusive tag), $13.957 million (transition tag)

KICKERS/PUNTERS: $5.670 million (nonexclusive tag), $5.286 million (transition tag)

The value of the exclusive franchise tag is the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year or 120% of his previous salary (whichever is greater). These numbers aren’t available until after restricted free agency ends.

Teams can only tag a player three times, and the value of the tag increases each time. The second time a player is tagged, they receive a 120% raise over the previous season. The third and final time a player is tagged, they receive a 144% raise.

Who are some recent examples of tagged players?

Last year, six players received the nonexclusive franchise tag: Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens, Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, Evan Engram of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Josh Jacobs of the Las Vegas Raiders, Daron Payne of the Washington Commanders and Tony Pollard of the Dallas Cowboys.

Jackson and the Ravens eventually agreed to a five-year contract worth $260 million. Engram and the Jaguars inked a three-year deal worth $41.25 million. Payne and the Commanders worked out a four-year contract worth $90 million. Jacobs held out and refused to sign the franchise tag, but he and the Raiders ultimately agreed to a one-year, reworked deal worth $12 million before the start of the regular season. Barkley and Pollard played on the franchise tag.

Who are this year’s franchise tag candidates?

ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters recently broke down the top franchise tag candidates for each NFL team, which include stars Barkley, Jacobs, Tee Higgins of the Cincinnati Bengals, Michael Pittman Jr. of the Indianapolis Colts, Josh Allen of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Antoine Winfield Jr. of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers among others.

Where can I find more NFL coverage from ESPN?

Check out ESPN’s NFL coverage, including breaking news, in-depth analysis, features, mock drafts, free agency predictions, fantasy football content and more.

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