What is the NFL Franchise Tag? Rules, 2023 values and deadlines

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 27: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens in action during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 27, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - NOVEMBER 27: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens in action during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on November 27, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images) /

The NFL Franchise Tag is used every offseason in free agency but what exactly does it mean, how does it work and when can teams use it?

If you’re trying to keep up with NFL rumors this offseason, especially before free agency actually begins on March 15, you’re probably going to hear about the Franchise Tag. It’s one of the most useful tools that front offices have at their disposal.

But if you’re not familiar with the jargon, it might be a bit confusing as to what’s going on with this tag, especially since there are two types — exclusive and non-exclusive — in addition to the transition tag. We’ve seen the Franchise Tag used with big names like Dak Prescott with the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins with Washington and many, many more.

So if you need to know what the NFL Franchise Tag is, what the details are about the different types, what dates to know, and the values at each position, we have you covered with all of the tag information to guide you in the 2023 offseason.

What is the NFL Franchise Tag?

In the simplest terms, this tag is a one-year contract. Every team in the NFL is allowed to use it once per offseason, though they are not required to. The benefit of it is often a player who is scheduled to enter free agency at the beginning of the new league year but the team wants to retain them in order to either keep them on the roster for one more season at a market-value price or in order to have more time to negotiated a long-term contract. Only players who are becoming unrestricted free agents are allowed to be tagged under league rules.

What is the exclusive Franchise Tag in the NFL?

Most often used, the exclusive iteration of the tag means that a player can’t negotiate with other teams. More importantly, if the player does not come to terms on a contract with the team that placed the tag on them, their salary for the upcoming season will be an average of the top five players at the position in terms of annual average value in that year or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary. Whichever total is higher is the salary that will be set for the one-year contract.

What is the non-exclusive Franchise Tag in the NFL?

While the salary rules for a non-exclusive tag is the same as the exclusive, it’s the negotiating rules that are different. If a player is tagged with the non-exclusive label, they are allowed to negotiate with other teams. If one of the other 31 teams offers the player a contract, the player’s former team that placed the tag on them has two options: Match the contract or refuse to match it and be awarded two first-round draft picks from the team signing the player.

NFL Franchise Tag values 2023: Salary by position

Given that the tag value is set by an average of contracts at the position, the salaries for players on the franchise tag are different by season. We now know the values for the 2023 season, though, and here’s what they are by position.

  • QB: $32.416 million
  • RB: $10.091 million
  • WR: $19.743 million
  • TE: $11.345 million
  • OL: $18.244 million
  • DE: $19.743 million
  • DT: $18.937 million
  • LB: $20.926 million
  • CB: $18.14 million
  • S: $14.46 million
  • P/K: $5.393 million

Quarterbacks obviously dominate the market in terms of value but don’t sleep on the offensive line and defensive positions as each, along with wide receivers, are in the ballpark of $20 million per year playing on the tag.

NFL Franchise Tag: Key dates, deadlines for 2023 offseason

Teams were able to begin using the Franchise Tag on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Teams will have until Tuesday, March 7 — two weeks from the day they were able to begin to be able to use the tag — to choose to use the tag on a player. The player and team will then be able to negotiate a long-term contract with any player who has been tagged. However, if a contract agreement isn’t reached by July 15 at 4 p.m. ET, the player will play out the 2023 season on the tag.

Can players be franchise tagged more than once?

Yes, but it’ll cost you — or, it’ll cost the team.

A player can be tagged in consecutive years but, the second year on the tag would cost a team 120% of the previous year’s salary. If some organization would wildly be paying 144% of the previous year’s salary.

NFL Franchise Tag Candidates for 2023

While this isn’t a full list, here is a big group of players who could be tagged by their respective teams in the 2023 offseason

  • Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
  • Daniel Jones or Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
  • Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
  • Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • Orlando Brown, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

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