NFL Franchise Tag Recap as Deadline Passes

A total of ten NFL players were tagged before the Tuesday deadline this week as teams start to build their rosters for the 2021 season, including star wide receivers Chris Godwin and Allen Robinson.

Players and the teams that signed them to a franchise tag now have until the middle of July to reach an agreement over a long-term contract extension, or else the player will be playing the upcoming season under the one-year tender.

Organizations had the option to use three different tags: the exclusive franchise tag, the non-exclusive franchise tag and the transition tag.

A team opting to place the exclusive franchise tag on a player pays them either the average salary of the top five highest-paid players at his position or 120 per cent of his previous year’s salary, whichever is greatest. If a player receives such a tag, they are unable to negotiate with other teams, they can either sign the franchise, sign a long-term deal, or hold out.

The non-exclusive franchise tags results in the same salary implications, but other teams are able to try and poach the tagged player. If a new team agrees on a contract with the player, the original team has the option to match the offer and take on the new contract themselves. Alternatively, the player signs for the new team and rookie picks are sent the other way as compensation. This is the most commonly used tag.

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When a player is transition tagged, that player receives the average salary of the ten highest-paid players at his position for one year. The player is able to negotiate with other teams for a longer contract and the original team still has the option to match such an offer, but if they do not, no compensation is given.

There has been a lot of debate so far this offseason whether or not Super Bowl champions the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be able to keep all of their key players entering free agency this year. Two of their biggest stars, Chris Godwin and Shaq Barrett, were due to hit the free market and only one could be signed on a franchise tag.

In the end the Bucs decided to go with Godwin for the tag, most likely because this way has a smaller hit ($15.8 million) than if Barrett had been tagged.  Despite facing injury issues, Godwin made 65 receptions for 840 yards and seven touchdowns last year in a star-studded Tampa offense.

“He brings so much more than targets,” said Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians. “When you look at what he does as an outside receiver and a slot receiver, he’s so unique in that regard. And then you put his blocking in there, so he’s a huge part of what we do offensively. It’s more than stats. It’s also what the guy brings to the huddle. I think with all these guys, each and everyone is so different because of what they bring into the huddle. But Chris is very, very unique.”

Similarly, 27-year-old wide receiver Allen Robinson signed a franchise tag deal with the Chicago Bears, who are in the market for a fresh start at quarterback.

Robinson has previously said he would not welcome the tag, but with the Bears looking to make a splash elsewhere this offseason, they have tied up the consistent playmaker in the most team-friendly method possible.

On the other side of the ball, safety Justin Simmons was franchise-tagged by the Denver Broncos for the second straight year as it is believed that the two sides are working to put a multi-year deal together ahead of the July deadline.

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The 27-year-old Pro Bowler finished last season with 96 tackles, five interceptions and nine passes defensed.

“Designating Justin with the franchise tag is a procedural move that allows us to continue working on a long-term deal,” Paton said in a statement Friday. “We are completely focused on making sure Justin remains a big part of the Denver Broncos for many years to come.”

Safeties Marcus Maye and Marcus Williams were also franchise-tagged, by the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints, respectively.

The Saints’ decision surprised some but most were expecting the non-exclusive tagging of veteran safety Marcus Maye, who will earn around $10.5 million in 2021 as a result of the decision.

“Marcus is a valuable member of this organization,” Douglas said. “Someone that started his career here, someone that’s been a pro’s pro. He’s smart, reliable and has provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We’re in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term.”

Also tagged were Taylor Moton and Cam Robinson, offensive tackles for the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively. Four-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff, guard for the Washington Football team, was tagged for the second consecutive year and star D-lineman Leonard Williams was tagged by the Giants.

Dak Prescott was also tagged by his team as he signed a long-term deal.

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