New CBA would give first-rounders a path to fifth-year franchise tag

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Despite repeated and historical complaints regarding the franchise tag, the device for keeping otherwise unrestricted free agents in place is going nowhere. But there’s one potential tweak in the new (if it happens) labor deal regarding the franchise tag that some players will welcome.

Per multiple sources, the proposed CBA would give first-round picks an escape hatch from the fifth-year option as currently calculated. If a first-round pick makes it to the Pro Bowl twice in his first three seasons, the amount of the fifth-year option would spike to the franchise tag for his position.

Players in the top 10 currently receive as a fifth-year option the transition tender applicable to their position for the prior year.  For a player like cornerback Jalen Ramsey (fourth overall), that’s $13.7 million. The projected 2020 franchise tender for cornerbacks is $16.4 million. (Ramsey would have qualified for the higher fifth-year option.)

The difference is even more pronounced for players not taken in the top 10. Bengals cornerback William Jackson, the 24th pick in 2016, is due to make $9.954 million under the formula for non-top-10 picks. With at least two Pro Bowls in his first three years, he’d be in line for $16.4 million instead. (Jackson did not qualify for two Pro Bowls in his first three seasons, however.)

A separate benefit comes the year after the rookie deal expires. With the franchise tender as the fifth-year salary, the player would get a 20-percent bump, if franchise-tagged in year six. That would push a cornerback to $19.68 million, significantly more than the franchise tag at the position for 2020 — barring an explosion in the salary cap. (It’s unclear whether the escalation of the fifth-year option payment to the franchise-tag amount also would count as an application of the franchise tag. After two career applications of the franchise tag, the player is entitled to a 44-percent increase over his prior-year cap number if/when tagged a third time.)

This is just another one of the terms that the players will get, if they agree to play 17 games. The biggest question remains whether they’ll agree to play 17 games.

24 responses to “New CBA would give first-rounders a path to fifth-year franchise tag

  1. If the players agree to a 17th game there needs to be more payroll for all of them. I’d prefer to see the extra cap used for expanded rosters and higher minimum salaries instead of more for the Pro Bowlers. They do just fine now. Raise the cap, increase rosters to 60, and make the minimum salary $650k.

  2. Franchise tag money tied to pro-bowls, which every one passes on going and is voted on by fans. Who is negotiating this CBA, Russell Okung?

  3. How does this benefit 95% of the players? If I was them I’d want something that guaranteed more money for the average player, not the small number of superstars who take up a large percentage of the salary cap.

  4. Which team is going to be foolish to pay Ramsey 16-20 mil next year? He is one of the best in the league but not a game changer. Only QB’s and a select DE’s are. The fact is that if you go back over the past 15-20 years the only DB’s who got big money (for their era) as free agents that actually helped their team win SB’s were Dion & Revis.

  5. First off, I don’t ever feel bad for any of these guys. The lowest-paid guys make more in a season than I made in ten-years teaching high school.

    Second, I think they should all be super bold as to back up their claim that the union is for every player by making it a rule that no player can take up more than ten percent of the cap. That helps teams acquire and keep players, good ones at that. It also helps the players who aren’t QBs or pass rushers by spreading the wealth. Teams get hamstrung by ridiculous contracts. Rookies shouldn’t be able to take up more than seven percent of the cap. That helps veterans. They’re supposed to be a UNION not an oligarchy.

  6. This is the last reason players should agree to a 17 game season. It benefits less than 1% of players. Those who have made 2 pro bowls before the rookie contract is up, yes that is less than 1%. The owners must think they are dealing with idiots..

  7. If a player gets voted but doesn’t play does it get counted? Also if a player makes it only because other players back out of it does that count for them? If they both count it seems like a loop hole the players could use to allow more players to get higher 5th year salaries. I’m okay with that.

  8. If I’m a team I’m going to hire a secret PR department and do what I can to make MY players less popular. Spread some BS lie that is unsubstantiated, just so that they don’t make the pro-bowl. Just don’t get caught.

  9. I’m with everyone else; this is silly. It’s symbolic.

    How about this. In the case of the application of either the 5th YO or the FT, both of which are 1-year deals where the player carries the injury risk (a big deal in the meat grinder we call the NFL), the player receives an injury guarantee for the following year of equal value. So if you are playing on the 5th YO for say 9 million, at least you know if you are seriously hurt you’ve got 9M coming the next year as you rehab, or if it’s career-ending, as your final paycheck.

    It wouldn’t ACTUALLY come into play very often but I think it’d really help take the sting out of these 1-year mechanisms for the players.

  10. There’s a huge flaw. I don’t like the idea that a player automatically qualifies for something based on pro bowl voting for several reasons. First of all, pro bowl voting in itself is flawed. Also, what if a RB or WR is on the fence. The RB might want the ball on the goal line every time, or the WR might get selfish, especially in garbage time. You shouldn’t have anything tied to individual goals. If anything, I’d award players who helped put up W’s for the team. It’s a team sport. In any other business, the people that make the most money for the company are the ones who get rewarded.

  11. Here’s a fun thought. This rule could lead to weaponized fan pro bowl voting.

    Want to mess with a division rival’s cap as a fan? Vote every 1st round pick of the hated foe to the pro bowl.

    Let’s do this.

  12. Yes, just think. Jaylon Smith made the pro bowl!!! Amazing!
    he was not a top linebacker. What is not known players who vote for
    the pro bowl have a very limited knowledge of what players actually
    deserve to be in the Pro Bowl.
    To rely on the Pro Bowl as a level of achievement is not a reliable
    factor in awarding contract bonuses.
    Back to Smith, his pro bowl birth was probably more of a result that
    he went to Notre Dame and plays for the Cowboys, this as well
    as Smith’s overt lobbying with both opposition players after games
    and his shameless tweets requesting Pro Bowl votes during the close
    of the vote. He did slip in, however, to be fair ..see how the opposition scouts
    evaluated Smith …..see what others teams thought. I’m betting it’s not as good
    as many believe.

  13. If the players want more money, the NFL needs to more product to sell. Another 6% product means a 6% increase across the board for the players.

    If the players don’t think a 6% increase is enough then keep the schedule at 16.

  14. 5 years is too long to be able to hold players to there rookie deal especially guys that get drafted late and turn out to be really good that is more than half there career in most cases, plus it encourages tanking.

  15. I think I would demand that players on 5th year options can only be franchised once, and that all 5th year and franchise tagged players receive an insurance policy. One that pays out $30 million over 30 years or some such. The franchise tag really does force the player to accept all of the risks, but a $30 or $50 million annuity plus the tagged amount balances that risk between the two. The player risks having his market value completely erased and loss of notoriety; the owner risks having to pay out the premiums on long term payments.

  16. DEFINE “make it to the pro bowl” Florio.
    Does “make it mean the player was ELECTED to the pro bowl?
    Or does “make it” mean that he is merely an injury or Super Bowl replacement?
    Why not make this “make it” onto the All-Pro team twice instead of the pro bowl?

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