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Franchise Tag and Transition Tag. What do they mean?

Sometimes we feel as though players are off limits when these designations are employed. That is not necessarily the case. Here are the rules that accompany these situations. I acquired these explanations from Wikipedia.

In the National Football League, the franchise tag is a designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. The tag binds the player to the team for one year if certain conditions are met. Each team has access each year to only one franchise tag (of either the exclusive or non-exclusive forms) and one transition tag. As a result, each team may only designate one player each year as that team's franchise player. It has been designed to reduce player movement (often to bigger markets) which is often evidenced in other major pro sports leagues.

Usually reserved for players of great skill or of high importance to the team, a franchise tag allows a team's general manager the privilege of strategically retaining valuable free-agent players while seeking talent through the NFL draft or other acquisitions without exceeding the League's salary cap. A team may also franchise tag a player with 2 or more years left on a contract.

The designated franchise player will have his one year salary guaranteed if he elects to play for the team that designated him with the franchise tag and if he does not negotiate a contract with another team.

There are two types of franchise tag designations: the exclusive rights franchise tag, and non-exclusive rights franchise tag:

  • An "exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player's team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
  • A "non-exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the previous year, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if he signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
  • As we see from this scenario, "Exclusive Franchise players" have no choice but to sign the one year contract or hold out, hoping to sign for a longer term. As a "Non-Exclusive Franchise player", there is a little leeway. It would be rather expensive for another team to offer the player a contract and win the bidding process but it can be done.
  • A transition tag is a tool used by National Football League teams to retain unrestricted free agents. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may make with another team. The transition tag can be used once a year by each club unless they elect to use a franchise tag instead. Transition tags can be rescinded; however, teams that rescind a transition tag cannot use it again until the next season.

    If a player signs a contract after receiving the transition tag, his original team can not use the tag again on any player until the contract has expired. The exception is if the player first signs a transition offer sheet, which is a one-year contract equal to the average salary of the top ten players in the league at the player's position, or a twenty percent salary increase, whichever is greater. This contract was not historically guaranteed; however, it became guaranteed starting in 2007 per the collective bargaining agreement agreed to by the NFL owners and the NFLPA on March 8, 2006. If the player signs the offer sheet prior to a long-term contract, the player's team can then use the tag the next year.

    If another club offers a contract to a transitioned player, his original club has seven days to decide whether to match that offer or not. If the original club agrees to match, the player is forced to sign with the original club at the terms agreed to in the offer by the other club. If the original club declines to match, the player signs with the other team, and the original team is offered no compensation, as they would be if the player had received the franchise tag.

  • This scenario is a lot less expensive to the other team offering a contract. No compensation is awarded if the original team declines to match the offer from the other team.

  • I'm sure most of you already know these designations but I thought for those that may not know you should be informed.

  • Look at the different designations that have been given to players from other teams. Is it worth the price for us to consider these players are should we pass. Let me know in the comment section.

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