Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline for teams to designate franchise or transition tag players has passed, with the Buffalo Bills electing not to tag any of their players. With the generally high salary cost associated with using tags, the Bills can’t really be faulted for not wanting to use any on the likes of E.J. Gaines (CB), Preston Brown (LB), Jordan Matthews (WR) highlighting the conceivable options for the Bills.
When the clock struck for 4 p.m., there were 24 other teams besides the Bills that had also elected not to put a tag on any of their respective players this off-season. Here’s a roundup of the six teams that did hand out tags.
- Chicago Bears: Cornerback Kyle Fuller (transition tag)
- Cincinnati Bengals: Tight end Tyler Eifert (franchise tag)
- Dallas Cowboys: Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tagged on Mar. 5)
- Detroit Lions: Defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (franchise tagged on Feb. 27)
- Los Angeles Rams: Safety Lamarcus Joyner (transition tag), not WR Sammy Watkins
- Miami Dolphins: wide receiver Jarvis Landry (franchise tagged on Feb. 20)
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Running back Le’Veon Bell (franchised tagged for second straight year)
In case you’re not aware of the various different types of tags, here’s an excerpt from a 2017 NFL.com article which explains the differences between the three options:
Non-exclusive franchise tag: This is the most commonly used tag. When most people refer to the “franchise tag” it’s generally the non-exclusive version to which they are discussing. It is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player can negotiate with other teams. The player’s current team has the right to match any offer, or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
Exclusive franchise tag: A one-year tender offer to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year, or 120 percent of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player’s team has all negotiating rights to the player. The bump in pay scale (current average salary versus averaging past five years of data) means only the crème de la crème get this tag (think: Drew Brees or Von Miller).
Transition tag: Think of this as the “you are pretty good, and we might want to keep you, but aren’t willing to put a ring on you ourselves” tag. The transition designation is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position -- as opposed to top five. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player might receive from another team, but no compensation if the team chooses not to match.
How much would it have cost the Bills to franchise one of their players? ESPN’s Adam Schefter shared next season’s salary cost per position:
Franchise tag numbers for this season:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2018
Position … Tag Salary
QB … $23,189,000
RB … $11,866,000
TE … $9,846,000
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
Bell, though, gets $14.544 million because the Steelers franchised him last season, too, so he’s entitled to 120% of his previous year’s salry. Fuller and Joyner, who were both slapped with the transition tag, will receive $12.97 million and $11.29 million, respectively.
While generally speaking, players dislike being tagged, it does provides teams additional time to work towards reaching a long-term deal with the tagged player. This year, clubs have until July 15 to reach a deal with franchised players, and even longer than that with the transition tag.
Since the inception of the franchise and transistion tags in 1993, the Bills have only used it five times and each one has been of the franchise variety. The recipients have been offensive lineman John Fina (‘96), wide receiver Peerless Price (‘03), cornerback Nate Clements (‘06), safety Jairus Byrd (‘13), and offensive lineman Cordy Glenn (‘16). Buffalo was able to work out a long-term deal with Glenn.