2024 NFL franchise tag: Everything you need to know, including top candidates to be tagged


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The NFL offseason truly kicks off Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, when all 32 clubs have the ability to franchise tag players they wish to keep on the roster for next season. 

The franchise tag is unique to the NFL as it allows players that might be on the move in free agency to stay put on the roster. Of course, in some cases, this doesn’t make players feel good because they could find more money and a better situation elsewhere.

But in every case, it allows that team the opportunity to negotiate further to perhaps reach a long-term extension. And for the player, guaranteed money comes their way for next season.

Let’s try to simplify the complex area of franchise tags with the designation period set to begin this week and end March 7.

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Saquon Barkley vs Eagles

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

What exactly is the franchise tag? 

The definition of the NFL franchise tag is the ability for NFL teams to select one player each offseason who is set to be an unrestricted free agent in order to guarantee one more year of that player under contract. 

Each team can do so in two different capacities: an exclusive franchise tag or non-exclusive. 

If the exclusive tag is selected for a player, the NFL team must offer a contract no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player’s position based on April of the current year (2024) or 120% of the player’s salary from the season prior. Whichever is the greater total, that will be the cap hit for next season.

SAQUON BARKLEY ‘NUMB’ TO POTENTIAL GIANTS FRANCHISE TAG THIS OFFSEASON: ‘GONNA LET MY AGENTS HANDLE THAT’

The non-exclusive tag is the same thing, but there’s a catch. The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams under this designation. An exclusive tag, then, is exactly what the name infers: The player is not allowed to talk to other teams about a contract.

If a deal is agreed to by the player on a non-exclusive tag with another team, his original team can match it or refuse. If there is a refusal, the league awards two first-round picks as compensation.

What is the NFL transition tag? 

While the franchise tag is usually discussed around the league, there is the transition tag as well. This refers to a tag that uses the average of the top 10 highest-paid players at each position, and guaranteed compensation is not provided. 

Teams, though, are not given the promise the player will remain on the roster for next season. If the team refuses to match a competing offer the player may have negotiated, they would not only lose that player, but the league will not provide draft compensation. 

Tee Higgins

Tee Higgins (Jeff Dean/Getty Images)

More than one-and-done?

One of the major facts to know about the franchise tag is a player can be tagged more than once. However, it comes at a heavier cost if done consecutively.

So, if a team wishes to use the tag in back-to-back years, they must agree to pay the player 120% of their salary the year before. A team is also allowed to do it three years in a row, though the 144% of the second-year tag for their salary that year, or 120% of the five highest salaries, is rarely seen.

Current franchise tag numbers per position

Here’s a breakdown of the projected non-exclusive franchise tag values for each position in 2024:

  • Quarterback: $36,367,000
  • Running Back: $11,348,000
  • Linebacker: $22,794,000
  • Defensive Tackle: $20,986,000
  • Wide Receiver: $20,714,000
  • Defensive End: $20,247,000
  • Offensive Line: $19,925,000
  • Cornerback: $18,802,000
  • Safety: $16,258,000
  • Tight End: $12,051,000
  • Kicker/Punter: $5,682,000

Top franchise tag candidates

RB Tony Pollard – Dallas Cowboys

Tony Pollard takes handoff

Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, right, hands off the ball to Tony Pollard during the second quarter against the New York Jets, Sept. 17, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Running backs were the story this past offseason, and Pollard was among the group that got franchise tagged by his club. 

There’s a good chance it happens again, though, because the amount of money that his salary jumps to next season ($11.348 million from $10.091 million) isn’t high. Pollard also struggled to start last season after coming back from injury in 2022. However, he said he felt better toward the end of the year and his numbers proved that.

Perhaps owner Jerry Jones, with many other contract situations on his roster, will want to tag Pollard to ensure he has his starting running back for at least one more season. There’s always the chance a multiyear deal can get done to improve the cap hit next season.

RB Saquon Barkley – New York Giants

Barkley, one of the league’s top men in the backfield, was front facing this past offseason after his negotiations with the Giants in his first year as a potential free agent went south. They gave quarterback Daniel Jones a four-year extension and gave Barkley the franchise tag.

The Giants’ offense revolves around Barkley, but there are already rumors they won’t want to tag him again, allowing him to hit free agency. But like Pollard, the salary bump isn’t too high, and his production is still prevalent in New York.

Barkley hopes the Giants don’t go up to the deadline this year if they wish to tag him. Will he finally get his extension, which many think he deserves? That’s not known, but if he hits the open market, he’s sure to see many suitors come calling. 

WR Tee Higgins – Cincinnati Bengals

Quarterback Joe Burrow made it clear: He expects one of his top receivers back on the roster in 2024. How the Bengals do that with Higgins remains to be seen, but the franchise tag would be simple to keep him, Burrow and receiver Ja’Marr Chase in place for another season. It would cost the Bengals $20.7 million to do so, but they have ample cap space with an estimated $59.44 million to work with.

Christian McCaffrey vs Ravens

Justin Madubuike of the Baltimore Ravens tackles Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, on Dec. 25, 2023. (Loren Elliott/Getty Images)

DT Justin Madubuike – Baltimore Ravens

While many look for the Ravens to hunt the free agent market for players like RB Derrick Henry, Madubuike proved his worth this past season for the NFL’s best team in the AFC.

Since he’s expected to be sought after by many if he hits the open market, the Ravens may want to franchise tag him and work on a multiyear extension to get the price tag down before the $20.9 million is locked in. That said, Madubuike would be looking at a deal per season at that price tag anyway. 

RB Josh JacobsLas Vegas Raiders

Once again, the Raiders find themselves staring at Jacobs and the franchise tag. He agreed to it at $11.791 million, $1.7 million more than the original price tag before the start of last season.

And like Barkley, Jacobs feels he’s proven his worth and wants to cash in on a long-term deal. Head coach Antonio Pierce, who knocks off the interim tag heading into next season, loves the ground-and-pound game, which Jacobs provides in Sin City.

There’s talk the Raiders will want to try to extend him before issuing the tag, with Jacobs coming off his worst year production-wise with 805 rushing yards and six touchdowns over 13 games.

LB Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers

Burns has made it known he wants to be among the highest-paid edge rushers in the NFL. His production last season didn’t say that, but the first-round pick of 2019 has 46 sacks over five seasons, including a 12.5-sack year in 2022, which earned him his second Pro Bowl nod.

Brian Burns vs Colts

Brian Burns (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

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At $23 million, the tag would be lower than what Burns wants per season from any team wishing to sign him long term. The tag allows the Panthers to continue negotiations to find common ground, which both parties would hope to find before 2024 kicks off.



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