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Franchise and Transition Tag Window in the NFL: 2024 Candidates and Salaries

The NFL franchise/transition tag window opened on Feb. 20 and will close on March 5. Teams have historically waited until the final week before officially using the tag on an impending free agent they want to keep, ensuring he won’t become an unrestricted free agent.

Franchise Tag Basics

  • Teams can only use one tag per offseason.
  • It rarely, if ever, happens, but the non-exclusive franchise tag allows the player to negotiate with other teams and sign an offer sheet. If their current team doesn’t match the offer, the new team gives up two first-round picks.
  • The transition tag provides only a right to match, with no compensation coming back if the team allows the player to leave.
  • A team can use the exclusive franchise tag, which is the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position during the current year (as opposed to the average of the top five salaries at a position over the last five years for a non-exclusive tag). This tag is more expensive, but the player would not be allowed to talk with any other team. This was last used on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott.
  • If a team applies the franchise tag on a player for a second time, the player receives a 120 percent raise from the previous year.
  • Thanks to how they structured their last contracts, QB Kirk Cousins and OLB Danielle Hunter cannot be franchise-tagged.

Projected Franchise, Transition Tag Salaries

Here are this offseason’s projected Franchise (non-exclusive) and Transition tag salaries. The official amounts will be finalized once the league announces the 2024 salary cap number.

PositionNon-Exclusive Franchise Tag ValueTransition Tag ValueQB$36,293,000$31,158,000RB$11,326,000$10,104,000WR$20,672,000$19,398,000THE$12,027,000$10,564,000OL$19,885,000$19,718,000OF$20,205,000$20,135,000DT$20,943,000$15,798,000LB$22,748,000$18,730,000CB$18,762,000$15,889,000S$16,224,000$13,957,000K/P$5,670,000$5,286,000

2024 Franchise Tag Candidates

Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

Tag Value: $20,672,000

The Cincinnati Bengals won’t allow Tee Higgins to become an unrestricted free agent. Still, his situation is fascinating and has been one that people have monitored for a couple of years. Joe Burrow has already been paid, and Ja’Marr Chase will eventually need to be paid. That leaves a big question mark surrounding Higgins, who would be a No. 1 wide receiver for many teams.

The Bengals could take the Jessie Bates route, make Higgins play one more year on the tag and then let him become a free agent and leave. Or they could tag him and try to trade him. Several executives I spoke to are confident the Bengals would get a first-round pick and potentially more. Cincinnati could try to do an extension, and there have been some talks, but that’s much easier said than done.

“Everyone on our team would like Tee Higgins back,” team executive Duke Tobin said after the season. “There’s a pie, and there are things we can do and can’t do because of it. We’ll see.”

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

Tag Value: $20, 672,000

The Indianapolis Colts could’ve tried to extend Michael Pittman Jr. last year when he became eligible. However, owner Jim Irsay decided no one would get an extension after how poorly the 2022 season went. That, of course, led to the Jonathan Taylor saga, which got ugly. However, Pittman was cool with waiting, played out his final year and had a career-high 109 receptions for 1,152 yards.

The 26-year-old is a big part of the Colts’ future, and the team anticipates him being Anthony Richardson’s top target for years to come. Pittman has had a different starting quarterback every year of his four-year career, so getting some consistency with a healthy Richardson could open things up for him. It would be a stunner if Pittman got to the open market.

Antoine Winfield, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tag Value: $16, 224,000

Antoine Winfield was selected First-Team All-Pro this past season after he tallied six sacks and three interceptions while forcing a league-leading six fumbles. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also will have to navigate free agency for Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans and Lavonte David. But Winfield is the name that makes the most sense due to the price tag of his tag.

Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) returns an interception as safety Eddie Jackson (4) looks on against the Minnesota Vikings during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaylon Johnson, CB, Chicago Bears

Tag Value: $18,762,000

The Chicago Bears permitted Jaylon Johnson to seek a trade in October, and the Bears had good offers on the table, including one from Pittsburgh. Yet, GM Ryan Poles wouldn’t do it unless he got a late-first- or early-second-round pick.

Both sides want this relationship to continue, but they have not seen eye-to-eye on where his price tag should be. Johnson wants to be at or near the top of the cornerback market, which is currently $21 million with Jaire Alexander. Chicago has been a bit lower. Poles said they aren’t going to let Johnson leave, so a tag is likely where this is heading.

Brian Burns, OLB, Carolina Panthers

Tag Value: $22,748,000

The Brian Burns situation has been a bit odd. The Carolina Panthers wouldn’t trade him for multiple first-round picks in 2022, but they also haven’t been willing to get close to where his market probably is in extension talks. They did not get particularly close before the regular season started when the sides tried to get a deal done.

Considering Carolina’s lack of draft capital, some around the league wonder if Burns could be a sneaky tag-and-trade candidate. He will turn just 26 in April.

Josh Allen, OLB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Tag Value: $22,748,000

The Jacksonville Jaguars have used the tag for four consecutive years and are poised to make it five in a row. GM Trent Baalke made it clear after the season that Josh Allen would be back no matter what, despite the two sides having not had serious extension talks.

Allen is coming off a career year with a franchise-record 17.5 sacks, and his 228 pressures over the past three years rank sixth among all players.

Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Justin Madubuike (92) celebrates after beating the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Stadium. (Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Justin Madubuike, iDL, Baltimore Ravens

Tag Value: $20,943,000

The Baltimore Ravens approached Justin Madubuike about an extension last offseason, but he told his representatives he wanted to bet on himself. That paid off. Madubuike had a breakout season in 2023, recording 13 sacks, the most by a Ravens player in nine years. He established himself as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL and is poised to get a large payday.

Baltimore has negotiated with Madubuike in recent weeks, and the tag would only be used as a placeholder for a long-term deal that some around the league believe is likely to happen.

Christian Wilkins, iDL, Miami Dolphins

Tag Value: $20,943,000

Last offseason was the year of the defensive tackles, with Dexter Lawrence, Jeffery Simmons, Quinnen Williams, Daron Payne, Javon Hargrave and Ed Oliver all getting new contracts. Despite that, the Miami Dolphins and Christian Wilkins struggled to find common ground during their talks and decided things would be tabled until after the 2023 season.

Wilkins added some extra millions to his eventual contract by finishing with career highs in sacks (nine), quarterback hits (23) and pressures (58). It would be tough to see him not in Miami next season, especially considering how beloved he is in the locker room and that he is a homegrown player.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Tag Value: $12,109,200

The New York Giants and Saquon Barkley came close to getting a deal done before last year’s extension deadline in July. It surprised many that they couldn’t get past the finish line because they were so close. I don’t think it’s a sure thing that Barkley will be tagged for a second straight year.

The Giants will talk to his representatives at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and if they don’t see eye-to-eye, GM Joe Schoen could allow him to check out what’s there on the open market. Barkley wants to get his long-awaited payday and believes he’s been a professional throughout the entire process.

Others in his position would have created a fuss. He’s played six seasons without getting the big second contract that every player covets. If his payday has to be with another team, Barkley is at a point in his career where he’s fine with it.

Josh Jacobs, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

Tag Value: $13,669,200

Josh Jacobs got tagged last year, but he ended up adjusting his one-year tender, making his tag value for this year a tad more than it would be for other running backs coming off a first tag. He had a down season with career-low numbers in rushing yards (805), yards per carry (3.5) and yards from scrimmage (1,101). He also missed the final four games of the year because of a quad injury.

New coach Antonio Pierce built a very special bond with Jacobs during his time as interim coach, and it’s a safe bet that Pierce will do whatever it takes to ensure he’s back. The franchise tag could be a bit pricey, so there is a scenario where he could get to the open market, and the Las Vegas Raiders let him see what’s out there first.

Ari Meirov is a respected NFL Insider known for his comprehensive coverage of the National Football League. As a prominent figure in sports journalism, Meirov has built a reputation for…

2024-02-22 15:26:11
#NFL #Free #Agency #Offseasons #Top #Franchise #Tag #Candidates

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