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Franchise tag 2017: How it works, how much players get paid, who will get tagged

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We break down the details surrounding the franchise tag.

The NFL enters the next phase of its offseason on Wednesday with the start of the franchise and transition tag period. Starting on Wednesday, February 15, teams will be able to place the franchise or transition tag on a player. Teams will have until 1 p.m. PT on March 1 to designate the tag.

What is the franchise tag?

They are essentially a one-year contract that provides a guaranteed salary for a player. There are exclusive and non-exclusive tags. If a player gets the exclusive tag, he cannot negotiate with other teams. If a player gets the non-exclusive tag, he can negotiate with other teams. In the latter instance, if he signs a long-term deal with another franchise and his own team chooses not to match the deal, the new team has to give up a pair of first round picks.

How much will a player get paid under the tag?

The franchise tag salary amount is set by averaging the top five salaries by position, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of a player’s salary the previous season. More specifically, as per Pro Football Talk, “the tenders are determined by the aggregate sum of the salary cap for the five prior years, divided by the aggregate sum of the franchise tags at each position over the same five-year period. The relative cap percentage is then applied to the base salary cap number for the new league year.”

Joel Corry offered up projections for the various positions:

Quarterbacks: $21.395 million
Running backs: $12.377 million
Wide receivers: $15.826 million
Tight ends: $9.894 million
Offensive linemen: $14.444 million
Defensive tackles: $13.468 million
Defensive ends: $16.955 million
Linebackers: $14.754 million
Cornerbacks: $14.297 million
Safeties: $10.961 million
Kickers/Punters: $4.863 million

Who will be tagged?

We won’t see any players on the San Francisco 49ers roster tagged, but plenty other teams have options. Some players almost certain to be tagged include:

RB Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
QB Kirk Cousins, Washington
OLB Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals
DT Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers
LB Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots
S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs

Berry has said he will sit out rather than play under the franchise tag, which would make for some serious problems. The Cleveland Browns are working with Terrelle Pryor to negotiate a contract extension, so he will be a name to watch. Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram, New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Perry are all options for the tag as well.

Teams have until March 1, so we will see some negotiations between some of these teams and players. I imagine most will happen closer to the last minute, rather than today or in the first few days.

What does it mean for the 49ers?

Kirk Cousins is the name to watch. I don’t think the 49ers would give up two first round picks to sign a non-exclusive tendered Cousins, but I am curious to see if Washington just makes it the exclusive tag and is done with it. Other than that, we’ll be looking for any potential surprises and what free agents that could in turn mean will walk for a given team.