As of 4:00 p.m. ET on February 16, 2016, the window for using the franchise or transition tags on impending free agents was opened for NFL teams. The Buffalo Bills may use the franchise tag to hold on to starting left tackle Cordy Glenn; if they do so, it will cost them in the neighborhood of just south of $14 million for a one-year deal, although they can lessen that number by working out a long-term deal before July 15.
Glenn, if tagged, would be the fifth Bills player to receive the tag since the system was implemented in 1993. If history is any indication, it would also mean that his time in Buffalo is drawing to a close.
The first time the Bills used the tag was near its infancy, when former first-round pick John Fina was set to hit free agency in the 1996 offseason. At that time, the franchise tag value for an offensive lineman was $2.6 million, a number that has jumped considerably in the intervening decades.
In a move that has yet to be repeated in team history, Fina and the Bills were able to negotiate a five-year deal before the season began. He actually played six more seasons in Buffalo, before spending his final year as a reserve in Arizona. His departure, along with the retirement of defensive end Phil Hansen, broke the final links the Bills' roster had with their Super Bowl run.
The Bills wouldn't use the franchise tag again until 2003, when wide receiver Peerless Price had a breakout 94-catch, 1,252-yard campaign in the final season of his rookie deal. The wide receiver tag that year was worth $5.01 million, compared with a projected $14.5 million this offseason.
Price is unique in that he never played a game as the Bills' franchise player, as he was dealt to Atlanta a few weeks later for the No. 23 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft, which the Bills later used to select Miami running back Willis McGahee.
Price, after his standout season, managed to catch 115 passes for 1,509 yards and six touchdowns ... over the next three years combined. He eventually returned to the Bills in 2006, playing two more seasons before calling it quits.
In 2006, the Bills were in yet another franchise tag battle, this time with cornerback Nate Clements. The price for a franchise corner has jumped from about $5.9 million in '06 to about $14.8 million today, all within a decade.
Clements, who had made the Pro Bowl two years prior, had a decent season, recording three interceptions and a touchdown for Dick Jauron's 7-9 squad. That said, he was unable to come to terms with the team on a long-term arrangement, and he bolted for San Francisco and a then-record eight-year, $80 million contract. He played four of those years with the 49ers, then finished his career with two seasons in Cincinnati. He was a solid defender, recording an interception in each of his 12 pro seasons, but never made as much of an impact as his contract would have suggested.
The most recent instance of the Bills using the franchise tag was in 2013, when they couldn't sign standout safety Jairus Byrd to a second contract. His franchise figure was just over $6.9 million, a number that has jumped to $10.7 million for safeties in only three years.
After leading the league in interceptions as a rookie, he gained a reputation as one of the better center-fielder types among defensive backs in the league, yet the Bills didn't value the position enough to pay him accordingly. As a result, he played out his one season under the franchise tag, and bolted as soon as the Bills declined to use the tag on him again the next offseason. He's spent the last two seasons in New Orleans, where he signed a six-year, $54 million deal, but missed most of the first year with injuries and failed to impress in the second.