Tuesday marks an important day on the NFL’s offseason calendar.
It is the first day that teams are allowed to use the franchise or transition tag on impending unrestricted free agents. The window will remain open until March 9.
Most teams will likely wait until closer to that date to use either tag and will use the intervening time to talk to players about long-term contracts. That process is a bit more difficult this year because of uncertainty about what the salary cap will be for the 2021 season.
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed that it will be no lower than $180 million, but will likely be lower than $185 million and that represents a big drop from the $198 million cap for the 2020 season. Salaries for franchise tags are generated by the five-year average cap percentage of the top five salaries at each position. Transition tag salaries are based on the average of the top 10 salaries at the position and offer players the chance to sign an offer sheet with other clubs.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin, Buccaneers pass rusher Shaq Barrett, Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson, Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams, Broncos safety Justin Simmons, and Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay are among some of the top candidates to get the tag. Prescott, Barrett, Williams, and Simmons were among the 15 players tagged last offseason and their tags would be worth 120 percent of their 2020 salaries as a result.
Any player who is tagged has until July 15 to work out a long-term deal with their team and they can also be traded after being tagged, although any deal would require them to sign the tag in order for the trade to become official.