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NFL franchise tag window opens; rules, which Buffalo Bills could see it?

The NFL’s window for franchise and transition tags has opened, and for the first time in a long time, the Buffalo Bills may actually consider it. The rules, deadlines, and financials can be confusing so we’ll break it all down for you here.


Window

Teams have from today, February 23, until March 9 to apply the franchise or transition tags. The deadline to sign those tagged players to a long-term deal is in mid-July. If no deal is reached, they play on the one-year tag.

Number

Each team can use one tag per year.

Salary

The salary is determined by the position the player is assigned by the team. It is a one-year contract for the average of the top five salaries at that player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of his current salary, whichever is greater.


The Buffalo Bills could use the franchise tag on a couple different players in 2021, but I still think it’s pretty unlikely.

LB Matt Milano
$15,657,000

If they are going to guarantee that much money to Milano, they should probably just sign him to a long-term deal to lower his cap hit in the COVID-depressed year of 2021. The four-year deal I projected carries a $10 million cap hit in 2021 and guarantees the first two years for less than $30 million. You’re already more than halfway there with the franchise tag. If they want to see if Milano can play a full year healthy or get another look at the pairing of Tremaine Edmunds with Milano, I could come around to that methodology as a half-measure. Typically, Bills general manager Brandon Beane is more committed to his vision than half-measures. If they tag Milano and don’t pick up Edmunds’s fifth-year option this offseason, both players could be unrestricted free agents a year from now.

RT Daryl Williams
$14,507,000

Same thing as Milano; I projected a four-year deal with $18 million guaranteed for Williams. If you’re going to be paying him $14.5 million anyway, might as well make it part of a long-term deal. I think it’s much more likely they re-sign Williams to a full deal than it would be for them to tag him.

OG Jon Feliciano
$14,507,000

If I don’t include him, you might ask. It’s really unlikely the Bills will need or choose to use a franchise tag to keep Feliciano. They should be able to get him under contract for a much lower figure in 2021 if they wish on either a short-term or mid-term deal.