Over the next couple of weeks you will be hearing a lot about NFL teams using the "franchise tag" on certain players. Maybe you know exactly what the franchise tag is and how NFL teams use it, maybe you don't. If you don't, you have come to the right place. Here is a quick primer on how the tag works.
NFL teams can apply the franchise tag to one player each year in order to prevent an unrestricted free agent from hitting the open market. An unrestricted free agent is one who has enough service time in the league to go the open market without his original team being able to match any offer he might receive. The tag gives teams the opportunity to keep their best players for at least one more year.
Franchised players lose the ability to become free agents for one season, but are financially rewarded. Players who are franchised must be paid either 120 per cent of their existing salary, or the average of the top five players at their position over the previous five years - whichever figure is greater.
Here are the estimated 2012 Franchise Tag salary figures by position:
- Quarterback $14.4 million
- Running Back $7.7 million
- Wide Receiver $9.4 million
- Tight End $5.4 million
- Offensive Line $9.4 million
- Defensive End $10.6 million
- Defensive Tackle $7.9 million
- Linebacker $8.8 million
- Cornerback $10.6 million
- Safety $6.2 million
This means that the New York Giants, for example, would have to pay unrestricted free agent wide receiver Mario Manning $9.4 million to franshise tag him for the 2012 season. Manningham just completed a four-year contract that paid him a total of $3.167 million. Thus, the Giants would be highly unlikely to use the tag on Manningham.