The deadline for NFL teams to place the franchise tag on one player is Tuesday, March 8 at 4 p.m. ET. Originally created a system designed to ensure small market teams could retain their best players without losing them to larger cities, the franchise tag has now become a hugely influential bargaining chip, allowing organizations to push players to sign contract extensions, or else risk playing without a safety net and potentially get injured.

While the franchise tag system is inherently unfair to players, the financial boon of a franchise tag is massive, especially for a mid-tier player. Tagged players will find themselves making a salary equal to the average of the top five contracts at their position. This applies to exclusive franchise tags and non-exclusive tags. Let’s break down the three big terms you’re going to hear today.

  • Exclusive franchise tag: The player in locked into their previous team, and can’t negotiate with other organizations.
  • Non-exclusive tag: The player can negotiate with other teams, but their current team is free to match any free agent offer to retain their services.
  • Transitional tag: The player will be paid the average of the top 10 players at their position, rather than the top 5, but is free to negotiate with other teams and sign somewhere else.

Not every team will use the tag. In 2021 a total of 10 players received the franchise tag, with the biggest name being Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who went on to sign an extension with Dallas after being tagged.

Here are all the franchise tags that have been applied so far.

Cincinnati Bengals

Jesse Bates, FS (exclusive)

Cleveland Browns

David Njoku, TE (exclusive)

Dallas Cowboys

Dalton Schultz, TE (exclusive)

Kansas City Chiefs

Orlando Brown, OT (exclusive)

Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki, TE (exclusive)


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