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NFL Franchise Tag Basics

The 2012 franchise tag period runs from Monday, February 20 until Monday, March 5.

What is the Franchise Tag Period?

Every year during this time, teams can designate one player with an expiring contract to receive a one-year contract at a set rate rather than negotiating a longer term deal or allowing the player to become a free agent.

What changes are there in 2012 and how is the franchise tag value determined?

Franchise Tags have come down in cost across the board this year under the terms of the NFL's new CBA. Under the new CBA, a tagged player will no longer receive the average of the five highest-paid players at his position. Instead, the salary for tagged players is determined by a much more complicated formula that factors in franchise tags at the given position for the previous five years as well as the overall cap figure in each of those five years.

2012 Franchise Tag Values:

QB - $14.4 million ($16.1 million in 2011)
RB - $7.7 million ($9.6 million in 2011)
WR: $9.4 million (11.4 million in 2011)
TE: $5.4 million ($7.3 million in 2011)
OL (average): $9.4 million ($10.1 million in 2011)
DE: $10.6 million ($13 million in 2011)
DT: $7.9 million ($12.5 million in 2011)
LB: $8.8 million ($10.1 million in 2011)
CB: $10.6 million ($13.5 million in 2011)
S: $6.2 million ($8.8 million in 2011)

Why do teams use the Franchise Tag?

Teams will normally use the franchise tag on a player who is important to the club's roster that the team has been unable to work out a long-term deal with but does not want to lose to free agency. The tag can give the team more time to work out a long-term contract.

Are there different types of Franchise tags?

There is a complicated formula but in short, yes. Basically there are two types of tags: exclusive and non-exclusive.

If a player receives an exclusive franchise tag, he is paid a little more, cannot negotiate with any other club and is locked into his existing team.

If a player is given a non-exclusive franchise tag, he is free to negotiate with other teams. But if he strikes a deal with another team, his existing club has one week to match the offer. If they decide not to do so, the existing team receives two first round draft picks from the player’s new club as compensation.

Can a franchise tag be removed?

The team can remove the franchise tag at any time. They have up until July to sign the player to a multi-year deal before the terms of the franchise tag kicks in.

Can a team use the franchise tag on a player in consecutive years?

Yes. But it gets progressively more costly. If a team wishes to use the franchise tag on the same player it did the previous season the player will receive 120% of his previous year's salary. For example, if the San Diego Chargers wanted to use their franchise tag on Vincent Jackson again this season they would have to pay him $13.7 million which is 120% of his 11.4 million from a year ago. If a team wants to tag a player for a third consecutive year the price tag jumps to 144% of their previous salary. This can be a very expensive proposition as using the franchise tag just once already makes a tagged player amongst the highest paid in the NFL at his position.

For a primer a team-by-team breakdown of potential Franchise Tag targets click here.

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