OK, I know I’m a nerd, but I find this stuff interesting.  Today I’m going to do my best to break down the franchise tag in the NFL.  You know, to try to make it simple to understand.

The Franchise player tag is a way for NFL teams to lock-up a player that’s about to become an Unrestricted Free Agent soon.  In exchange for keeping a player from leaving, the Collective Bargaining Agreement mandates that the team and the player engage in a one-year deal.  Each team can only use the franchise tag on one player.

There’s two types of franchise tags; exclusive, and non-exclusive.

Mike Vick is one of only two players given the exclusive franchise tag for the 2011 NFL season. (ICON)

Player’s with Exclusive franchise tags aren’t allowed to negotiate with any other teams.  The compensation for their one-year contract  must be at least: a) the average of the top 5 players at his position at the end of the current free agency period, or b) 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.

Non-exclusive franchise players can sign with another team, but if they do, the player’s original team has the right to match the terms of the contract from the other team.  If the original

team (that tagged the player as a non-exclusive franchise player) fails to match the offer from the second team, and the player signs with the new team, the original team is entitled to two first-round picks from the player’s new team as compensation.

The guidelines for the compensation for non-exclusive franchise players is almost the same as exclusive.  The only difference is that with non-exclusive, the player’s pay for the upcoming one-year contract must be at least the average of the top 5 players at his position for the previous NFL season, whereas with exclusive, it has to be at least the average of the top 5 players at his position as of the end of the current free agency period.

The “…or 120% of the previous year’s salary, whichever is greater” criteria applies to both exclusive and non-exclusive tags.

Franchise tags are rarely used.  Going into the 2011 season (if it takes place), only 14 teams have designated franchise players.  And that’s the most that have ever been designated in the history of the NFL.  Keep in mind that there’s 32 teams in the league.   2-of-the-14 franchise players going into the 2011 season are exclusive (Michael Vick and Peyton Manning), the rest are non-exclusive.

Of course there’s more little nuances that I didn’t cover, but in a nutshell, that’s pretty much it.

So how’d I do?  Did I make it simple to understand?  Let me know what you think in the comments!


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