In 1993, the Franchise Tag was introduced into the NFL lexicon.
The designation, which carries two categories (exclusive rights and non-exclusive rights) is designed to ensure teams are able to keep their best players, regardless of what might be offered in the free agent market.
If you are an exclusive rights franchise tagee, you will receive a one-year contract for whatever is greater between the average of the top five salaries in the NFL at your position or 120 percent of your previous year’s salary. The downside to this designation is that you cannot negotiate with any other team but the one that tagged you.
A non-exclusive rights tagged player will essentially receive the same kind of contract as the exclusive rights player, but retains the ability to negotiate and sign with another team. At that point, the previous team would have the opportunity to match the contract or, if not, receive a pair of first-round draft picks as compensation.
Many players have been tagged since 1993, with a good portion of them not being happy about it. Sure, the money is nice for a one-year deal, but there is a lack of security in such contracts and they understand more could be made if they were free to sign anywhere they wanted.
The Cardinals have not used their franchise tag since 2012, but this offseason they have a good many key free agents and will likely have to turn to it once again.
The most likely (and obvious) candidate is linebacker Chandler Jones, whom head coach Bruce Arians came out and said the team would tag if a long-term deal could not be reached, which is a sentiment team president Michael Bidwill echoed. According to CBSSports’ Joel Corry, the one-year contract would pay Jones around $16.96 million as a defensive end or $14.75 million as a linebacker.
Beginning Feb. 15 and running through March 1, the Cardinals (and every other team) are eligible to designate franchise players, with free agency beginning in earnest on March 7.
Assuming Jones gets tagged, he will be the ninth player in the franchise’s history to earn the designation, with his being the 10th instance overall.
Here’s a look at some of the other players who the team has tagged in the past.
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