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   Cost of Applying the Franchise Tag: 2018

July 19, 2018
Al Lackner
Before we start talking about projected numbers, lets review the NFL's definition of a Franchise Player and what is involved when a team whips out the tag.

Each Club can designate one of its players who would otherwise be an UFA or RFA as a Franchise Player each season. The team has the option of designating a Franchise player with one of two tags: Exclusive or Non-Exclusive.

A player designated with the Exclusive tag can only negotiate with his prior club (the one that tagged him). The tender associated with this version of the tag is a one year contract that is the minimum of the average of the five largest salaries (as calculated at the end of the free agency signing period) for players at the position at which he played the most games during the prior year, or 120% of his prior year salary, whichever is greater.

A player designated with the Non-Exclusive tag can negotiate a contract with another Club as if he were an UFA; however, Draft Choice Compensation of TWO first round draft selections (or some other mutually agreed upon compensation) shall be awarded to the prior club in the event that he signs with the new club. Prior to 2011 the tender for Non-Exclusive Franchise Player the tender was a one-year contract that was the minimum of the average of the five largest PRIOR-YEAR salaries for players at the position at which he played the most games in the prior year, or 120% of his prior year salary, whichever is greater. Starting in 2011 (with the latest CBA), the tenders were redefined in a more convoluted fashion. The calculation is as follows:
  • A = Total sum of the salary cap for the previous five prior years. In this case 2013-2017.
  • B = Sum of the franchise tags at each position over the same five-year period.
  • C = B (for each position) divided by A. This represents the relative cap percentage for the franchise tag by position.
  • For each position, the tender is the respective percentage for that position (as calculated for C above) multiplied by the salary cap for the given year.
Make sense?

The base salary cap for for each team is $177.2 M for 2018.

The base Franchise Tenders for Non-Exclusive Rights players by position will be:

QB - $23,189,000
RB - $11,866,000
WR - $15,982,000
TE - $9,846,000
OL - $14,077,000
DE - $17,143,000
DT - $13,939,000
LB - $14,961,000
CB - $14,975,000
S - $11,287,000
K/P - $4,939,000


We cannot estimate the Exclusive tag numbers with much accuracy, since the free agency period has not closed (or even begun as of this writing) for 2018. In case you are wondering, the CBA does have a provision stipulating that the Exclusive tag CANNOT be less than the Non-Exclusive tag for the respective position. Remember also that any player who is tagged for a second year in a row is guaranteed to cost 20% more than he did the previous year.

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