What Does Franchise Tag Mean in the NFL?

min read
Lamar Jackson just received a franchise tag from the Baltimore Ravens.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Feb 27, 2024, 10:02 AM

The franchise tag is a special kind of one-year contract that only exists in the NFL. Once per offseason, a franchise may elect to tag a player, locking them into a non-negotiated salary for the upcoming season. 

Only players who are about to become free agents can be hit with the franchise tag. The franchise tag can’t be used to adjust a player’s salary in the middle of their contract.

Generally, teams deploy the franchise tag strategically, opting to lock up a key player for a year if long-term negotiations fall apart.

There are two types of franchise tags. The first is the exclusive tag, which prevents a player from negotiating with any other franchise as they would during the free agency period and pays the player a fully guaranteed salary. 

Tagged players earn either the average of the top five players at their position or 120% of a player’s previous salary – whichever figure is more lucrative for the player. 

The other type of franchise tag is known as the non-exclusive tag, and it allows players to negotiate with other teams. If a non-exclusively tagged player does reach a new deal with another team, the original franchise that tagged him retains the right to match the deal if it so chooses.

If the original franchise elects to let the player go, it is awarded a pair of first-round picks as compensation for losing the tagged player. 

Ahead of the 2024 season, NFL teams have a two-week window from Feb. 20 to March 5 to identify franchise tag targets.

What Does the NFL Franchise Tag Do?

In short, the NFL franchise tag allows a team to retain a player at the end of his contract for an additional year at a preset price.

How Much Do NFL Players Get Paid With the Franchise Tag?

Tagged players are paid relative to the market for their individual positions. That means tagged quarterbacks are paid a very high rate because quarterback salaries are very high these days.

On the other hand, deemphasized positions like running back or safety are paid smaller tag salaries.

NFL Franchise Tag Values 2024

Position2024 Franchise Tag Compensation
Quarterback$38,301,000
Running Back$11,951,000
Wide Receiver$21,816,000
Tight End$12,693,000
OL$20,985,000
Defensive Tackle$22,102,000
Defensive End$21,324,000
Linebacker$24,007,000
Cornerback$19,802,000
Safety$17,123,000
Kicker/Punter$5,984,000

NFL Franchise Tag Deadline

NFL teams preparing for the 2024 season have until March 5, 2024 at 4 p.m. ET to utilize their franchise tag.

Is the NFL Franchise Tag Good or Bad?

Well, it depends on who you ask. The franchise tag is deeply anti-capitalistic, since it allows teams to lock down players who otherwise would almost certainly make more money on the open market. (And as regular readers of my work know, I’m evangelical about the powers of the market.)

Players generally loathe the franchise tag because it impacts their ability to get maximum money from the market. It also forces them to play on a one-year deal, where an untimely injury right before hitting the market (again) would negatively impact a player’s ability to reach a long-term deal.

On the other hand, owners, fans, and front offices generally love the tag, since it yields more flexibility and institutional control over players who would otherwise be up for grabs. 

NFL Franchise Tag Players in 2023

 

TeamPlayerPosition
RavensLamar JacksonQB
GiantsSaquon BarkleyRB
CowboysTony PollardRB
RaidersJosh JacobsRB
CommandersDaron PayneDT
JaguarsEvan EngramTE

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.