What does the Franchise Tag in the NFL Mean? - Fan Arch

What does the Franchise Tag in the NFL Mean?

What does the Franchise Tag in the NFL Mean?

In the National Football League (NFL), the franchise tag is a designation that teams can use to retain the rights to a player. This tag allows a team to prevent a player from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The franchise tag is a crucial aspect of the NFL's player contract system and has significant implications for both players and teams.

What is the Franchise Tag?

The franchise tag is a contractual tool used by NFL teams to retain key players whose contracts are set to expire. It allows teams to retain the rights to a player for an additional year, preventing them from entering free agency and signing with another team. The tag can be applied to one player per team per season, and the player is guaranteed a one-year contract with a salary based on the average of the top five salaries at his position or 120% of his previous year's salary, whichever is higher.

Types of Franchise Tags

In the NFL, there are two types of franchise tags that teams can use:

  1. Exclusive Franchise Tag: This type of tag prevents the player from negotiating with other teams. The player's salary is set at the average of the top five salaries at his position, or 120% of his previous year's salary, whichever is higher.
  2. Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag: With this tag, the player is allowed to negotiate with other teams. However, if the player signs an offer sheet with another team, the original team has the right to match the offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation if they choose not to match the offer.

Purpose of the Franchise Tag

The franchise tag serves several purposes for NFL teams:

  • Retaining Key Players: It allows teams to retain key players who are vital to their success, providing them with another year to negotiate a long-term contract.
  • Preventing Free Agency Losses: It helps teams avoid losing valuable players to free agency, giving them more time to work on a permanent contract.
  • Maintaining Competitive Balance: The tag helps maintain competitive balance by preventing wealthier teams from poaching star players from smaller-market teams.

Impact on Players

While the franchise tag provides job security for players by guaranteeing them a one-year contract, it also has potential drawbacks:

  • Limited Long-Term Security: Players tagged with the franchise tag have limited long-term security as they are only guaranteed a one-year contract.
  • Risk of Injury: A one-year deal exposes players to the risk of injury without the security of a long-term contract.
  • Negotiation Leverage: Players often seek to avoid the tag as it can limit their ability to negotiate a more lucrative long-term deal with their current team or another franchise.

Controversy and Negotiations

The franchise tag has been a subject of controversy in the NFL as players and teams navigate the complexities of contract negotiations:

  • Player Dissatisfaction: Many players view the franchise tag as a restrictive measure that limits their earning potential and long-term security.
  • Negotiation Deadlines: The deadline for teams to apply the franchise tag often leads to intense negotiations between players and teams as both parties seek to reach a long-term agreement to avoid the tag.
  • Holdouts and Disputes: In some cases, players have held out or engaged in contract disputes to express their dissatisfaction with being tagged, leading to strained relationships between players and their teams.

Notable Examples

Several high-profile NFL players have been tagged in recent years, sparking discussions and negotiations:

  • Dak Prescott: The Dallas Cowboys used the franchise tag on quarterback Dak Prescott in 2020 before eventually signing him to a long-term contract.
  • Kirk Cousins: Quarterback Kirk Cousins was tagged by the Washington Football Team in 2016 and 2017 before signing with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent.
  • Chris Jones: Defensive tackle Chris Jones was tagged by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020 before agreeing to a long-term extension.

The franchise tag in the NFL serves as a mechanism for teams to retain key players and maintain competitive balance. However, it also presents challenges for players seeking long-term security and fair compensation. As the NFL continues to evolve, the franchise tag will remain a focal point of contract negotiations and discussions between players and teams.


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