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Beginning to today until March 4 teams may place the franchise tag on a player they would like to retain negotiating rights with and/or keep on a one-year deal instead of seeing him become a free agent. Who are the players around the league likely to get tagged?
For starters, the franchise tag should be defined for those that are unfamiliar. There are actually two types of franchise tags:
Exclusive franchise tag: This is what most people think of when they think of the phrase "franchise tag." It is a one year deal based on the average salaries of the top-five paid players at the players position or 120 percent of their previous year's salary, whichever is greater. The exclusive means that the team using the tag maintains negotiating rights and no other teams can negotiate with that player.
Non-exclusive franchise tag: This is a one-year deal based on the average salaries of the top-five players at the position or 120 percent of the player's previous season salary, whichever is less. With this tag other teams are welcome to negotiate with the player and sign an offer sheet. The original team can match the offer but if they decline they are entitled to two first-round draft picks from the new team.
There is a third tag, the transitional tag, which is based on the salaries of the top 10 players at the position or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. With this tag other teams are free to negotiate with the player but the designating club retains right of first refusal and can match any offer other teams make. However, unlike the non-exclusive tag, if a team does not match the offer within seven days it will receive no compensation.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal has a good article looking at who will get the tag, who is likely to get the tag and who may or may not get tagged.
He says the Bills will use their tag on safety Jarius Byrd and that the 49ers will use theirs on Dashon Goldson. Sorry Bears fans but I doubt John Elway uses a any tag other than the exclusive on Clady so it's unlikely the Bears could even consider giving up two first-round picks for an All-Pro left tackle.
Rosenthal's article is worth checking out because he explains which teams are going to have dilemma's when it comes to tagging their players.
2. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills safety: The Bills dumped three veteran defensive players in part so they could afford to keep Byrd around. If a long-term deal is reached early enough, the Bills could use the tag instead on guard Andy Levitre. Either way, Byrd isn't going anywhere.
Levitre is a name some on this blog would like to see the Bears be able to pursue, so if news of a new deal for Byrd comes out before the tag deadline, then fans can forget about him.
Another name Bears fans want to see on the back of a navy and orange jersey next year could also be off the market:
16. Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans tight end: Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reported the team is likely to use the tag on Cook, who has been alternately brilliant and erratic throughout his career. It's a little bit of a surprise because the team struggled to get Cook the ball last year.
And then here is another article from NFL.com's Ian Rapoport with the projected tag costs and salary cap number. With the Bears franchising Melton, it's worth noting that the numbers for the DT tag are:
DT: Franchise: $8.306 Transition: $6.919
What are your thoughts? What about other players, anyone worth two first round picks for if they were to get the non-exclusive tag?