As star players begin to consider the Kirk Cousins/Trumaine Johnson year-to-year approach to the franchise tag, there’s a potential squabble looming regarding the total number of times a player can be restricted by the franchise tag.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement contains no express limitation on the number of franchise tags that can be applied to a given player. Article 10, Section 2(b) of the CBA arguably implies that a player can’t be franchise-tagged more three times.
The NFL Players Association would argue that the franchise can’t be used more than three times. The NFL declined comment on the issue.
Of course, the ability to use the franchise tag for a fourth time and the price of it are two very different propositions. With the franchise-tagged player guaranteed at least a 44-percent increase over his second franchise tender when tagged a third time, it likely would cost at least as much for a fourth.
So if Cousins, for example, were tagged a fourth time, he’d get a 44-percent raise over the 44-percent raise over $23.94 million. That’s $49.6 million for a fourth year under the franchise tag — which means it’s highly unlikely he’d be tagged a fourth time.
Could there ever be a player who merits a fourth franchise tag? If more and more players go year to year, eventually maybe someone will.