One of the main mile markers of the NFL offseason has now come and gone. Up until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, teams across the NFL had the ability to place the franchise or transition tag on soon-to-be free agents. Leading up to that point, each team can designate one player with either tag, which effectively retains them for the upcoming season. If the club decided against placing a player with the tag, they would be heading towards free agency where they’ll be able to ink a deal with whichever club they want.
This year, there were a number of stars hit with the tag and a few others that found themselves free to explore the open market. Below, we’ll give you a quick rundown of what each tag specifically means and then a recap of the action that unfolded leading up through the deadline.
How do the tags work?
- Franchise tags are essentially one-year contract offers that come in two forms: exclusive and non-exclusive.
- Exclusive tags restrict negotiating rights to the tagging team and pay out an average of the top five salaries at the player’s position in the current year, or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
- Non-exclusive tags, which are more common, pay out an average of the top five tag amounts at the player’s position from the previous five years (applied to the current cap), or 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Players who receive this tag can negotiate with other teams, but the tagging team has the right to match any offer — and would also receive two first-round draft picks in the event the player signs elsewhere.
- Transition tags are also one-year contract offers. They pay out an average of the top 10 salaries at the player’s position. Players who receive this tag can negotiate with other teams, but the tagging team has the right to match any offer. If the tagging team declines to match, it would not receive any compensation in return.
2022 franchise tag rundown
Buccaneers officially tag Chris Godwin
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin. This marks the second time in as many seasons that Godwin would be hit with the franchise tag. This year, he would receive $18.42 million fully guaranteed and ensure that both sides would have more time to work toward a long-term extension. The All-Pro wideout was set to be one of the hottest names on the open market at his position, despite suffering a torn ACL in December that cut his 2021 campaign short.
By placing the franchise tag on Godwin, that means Carlton Davis — one of the top free-agent cornerbacks — will hit the open market.
Jaguars officially place tag on OT Cam Robinson
For the second straight year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have placed the franchise tag on on left tackle Cam Robinson. Last year, Robinson made $13.75 million on the tag and will now be in line to earn $16.662 million for the 2022 season. With this tag now official, it will be interesting to see how the Jaguars operate with the No. 1 overall pick. It has been anticipated that tackles Ikem Ekwonu or Evan Neal could be candidates for the top selection, but this tag does cloud things a bit.
Packers officially tag Davante Adams
Shortly after news broke of Aaron Rodgers agreeing to a record-setting deal with the Packers, reports noted that the team was expected to place the franchise tag on their All-Pro receiver and that move has since become official. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora has confirmed that Adams has officially been hit with the tag. On the tag, Adams is set to make $20.1 million fully guaranteed for the 2022 season.
Cowboys officially place tag on TE Dalton Schultz
Schultz finished last season with 78 catches for 808 yards and eight touchdowns. He had worked behind Blake Jarwin for the first two seasons of his career before taking over as the starter early in 2020. Jarwin’s hip injury clouds his future status, and the Cowboys appear to be making retaining Schultz a priority. They may create room for this move (and re-signing Michael Gallup) by cutting ties with Amari Cooper and/or Demarcus Lawrence. He’ll draw a salary of approximately $10.9 million on the tag, though the Cowboys are interested in negotiating a long-term pact to keep him around.
Chiefs officially place tag on LT Orlando Brown
Brown will earn $16.7 million fully guaranteed on the tag and that money will land on the club’s salary cap, potentially limiting what the Chiefs will be able to do in free agency. The 25-year-old just finished up his first season with the Chiefs after being acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens and put together his third consecutive Pro Bowl campaign.
Bengals officially place tag on S Jessie Bates III
The Bengals tagged Bates in the hopes of negotiating a long-term contract with him before the deadline. “Jessie has been an outstanding player here for four years,” executive vice president Katie Blackburn said in a statement. “Over the past year, we’ve tried to extend his contract here in Cincinnati, and while that hasn’t come to pass, we want him here for 2022 to be a part of what we think should be an exciting football season and bright future for our organization.” Bates would make roughly $13 million if he plays out the year on the tag.
Browns officially place tag on TE David Njoku
In a bit of a surprise, the Cleveland Browns elected to tag Njoku, keeping him for the 2022 season. The tight end would make $10.9 million fully guaranteed under the tag, but this may simply be a placeholder as the two sides reportedly hammer out a long-term contract before the July 15 deadline. With the Browns working to keep Njoku in-house for the long haul, it does bring to question the security of Austin Hooper as Cleveland could clear $2 million off the cap if they released him.
Dolphins officially place tag on Mike Gesicki
The Dolphins used the franchise tag on Gesicki prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Gesicki finished with a career-high 73 catches for 780 yards and two touchdowns. He has 177 catches for 2,053 yards and 13 touchdowns over the last three seasons, all ranking in the top-10 amongst tight ends. The Dolphins ran 72% of plays with multiple tight ends in 2021, the highest rate in the league.
Notable untagged players
Titans don’t tag OLB Harold Landry
Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported leading up to the deadline that the Tennessee Titans would not be placing the franchise tag on outside linebacker Harold Landry. The club still hopes to re-sign Landry to a long-term deal, but could soon be fending off the rest of the NFL to ink the 25-year-old pass rusher to a contract. Last season, Landry totaled career bests in sacks (12), quarterback hits (22) and tackles (75).
Patriots to let J.C. Jackson reach free agency
The New England Patriots were not expected to place the franchise tag on All-Pro cornerback J.C. Jackson. This means that Jackson will hit unrestricted free agency, where he is in a position to possibly reset the market at his position. Jackson was reportedly open to playing under the tag in 2022, but it appears that number was too rich for New England’s blood. Jackson is coming off a 2021 season where he led the NFL with 23 pass breakups while allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete just 49.1% of their passes and register a 46.8 passer rating.