The Franchise Tag

There’s been a lot of discussion this summer about the Franchise tag, something I alluded to in my previous article (why Bryant and not Murray?). Its led to a few people asking “What is a Franchise Tag, and how does that work”. So lets break it down into its simplest form.

The NFL voted, in its infinite wisdom, to introduce Franchise tags as a compensation system for clubs who would draft a great player, play him till the end of his rookie contract, and then lose him to a bigger team under free agency, despite having done all the work to develop him. Various sports have compensatory schemes for smaller teams who develop players and lose them to big clubs, and this was the NFL’s version.

Each club has 1 Exclusive/Non Exclusive Franchise Tag, and 1 Transitional Franchise Tag, and can apply it to any player on their roster.

If a player signs a 5 year contract, its potentially a 6yr deal, because the Exclusive/Non Exclusive Franchise Tag allows teams to keep a single player on their roster for an extra year, under the following conditions.

1. They must be paid 120% of their current salary for the following year.


2. They must be paid the average of the top 5 players in their position for that year.

Whichever is the higher amount. In most cases, the latter applies, so here’s how much anyone Franchise Tagged since 2007 would be paid.


Seems straightforward enough. Of course, its the NFL, so lets find a way to overcomplicate the situation. Lets introduce ….

“Exclusive” Franchise Tags – Player cannot negotiate with any other team, and must take the offer, at the rate stated above, from their current team.

“Non-Exclusive” Franchise Tags – Player can negotiate with any other team, however if they accept an offer from that other team, the original team has the right to match that offer. However if they choose not to match that offer, or cannot match the offer, that team receives TWO first round draft picks as compensation.

Those varieties actually seem quite straightforward. So lets introduce ….

“Transitional” Franchise Tags. – The player must be made an offer, as above , of 120% of his current salary, or the average of the top TEN players in his position. The player can negotiate with other teams, and if he agrees a contract elsewhere, the team has the right to offer the same deal to the player and retain him. However unlike the Non-Exclusive tag, if the team chooses not to match the offer, no compensation is paid.

Confused? Dont worry, you wont have to negotiate a deal with these rules anytime soon.