INDIANAPOLIS --- Tuesday is the first day in a two-week period when NFL teams can use the Franchise or Transition Tag on players who will be free agents at the start of the league year, which begins 4:00 p.m. on March 9th.
Just six players have received the franchise or transition tag in each of the past two years around the NFL. Each team can only apply the franchise/transition tag to one player per year. Teams cannot apply the franchise tag to one player and the transition tag to another in the same year.
What is the Franchise Tag?
The franchise tag keeps a pending unrestricted free agent on his team for one year with a guaranteed salary that is an average of the top five highest paid players at that position or 120% of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater.
What is the "Exclusive" Type of Franchise Tag?
A franchise tag can either be exclusive or non-exclusive. An exclusive franchise tag means the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
What is the "Non-Exclusive" Type of Franchise Tag?
A non-exclusive franchise tag means the player can negotiate with other teams, but his current team can match any offer. If his old team doesn't match the offer, it gets two 1st round picks. The non-exclusive franchise tag is used more often, as a player's old team usually sees it as a win-win to keep the player for an extended contract or move on for two prized 1st round picks.
What is the Transition Tag?
The transition tag is rare and gives the player a one-year salary average of the top 10 highest paid players at the position. The original team can then match any contract offered by another team to the transition tag player. If the original team doesn't match the offer, it does not receive any compensation.
What is the Colts history with the Franchise/Transition Tag?
The Colts have used the franchise tag 11 times since 1993, more than any team in that span. General Manager Ryan Grigson has used it twice: OLB Robert Mathis in 2012 and punter Pat McAfee in 2013.
How much would it cost to use the franchise/transition tag in 2016?
This is all determined by the salary cap, which is set to see a significant increase in 2016. NFL Network reporter Rand Getlin reports it is expected to increase to $155 million this year, nearly $12 million more than it was in 2015 ($143.28 million). $155 million is also $35 million more than what the salary cap was when Chuck Pagano and Ryan Grigson were hired in 2012.
NFL.com released estimates on what it will cost to franchise or transition tag a player this season based on a projected salary cap of $153 million. So, these franchise tag numbers could be a bit higher, but it's a good starting point (transition tag in parenthesis):
Quarterback: $19.6 million ($17.5 million)
Defensive end: $15.4 million ($12.5 million)
Wide Receiver: $14.4 million ($12.0 million)
Linebacker: $14.0 million ($11.7 million)
Cornerback: $13.7 million ($11.7 million)
Offensive line: $13.5 million ($11.7 million)
Defensive tackle: $13.4 million ($10.7 million)
Running back: $11.5 million ($9.5 million)
Safety: $10.6 million ($9.0 million)
Tight End: $9.0 million ($7.6 million)
Kicker/Punter: $4.5 million ($4.0 million)