What’s next for franchise-tagged players?

NFL: DEC 12 Raiders at Chiefs
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The deadline for signing franchise-tagged players to multi-year deals has come and gone. So what happens next?

For the two tagged players who have accepted their tenders (Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki and Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz), they’ll proceed for 2022 at guaranteed salaries of $10.9 million. Next year, their teams will have to decide whether to tag them again, at an increase of 20 percent over their 2022 pay (i.e., $13.08 million), or to let them leave via free agency. After the regular season ends, they can once again be signed to multi-year deals.

By 2024, when the third franchise tag essentially becomes quarterback money, they’ll be gone.

For the two tagged players who remain unsigned (Chiefs tackle Orlando Brown and Bengals safety Jessie Bates), neither is under contract with their teams. They can skip training camp and all of the preseason, with no financial penalty. They can show up not long before the start of the regular season and receive their full salaries.

They also can hold out into the regular season, if they’re willing to sacrifice their game checks. There will be a deadline for accepting the tender and getting credit for the current tag year (we’ll re-learn the specifics if/when they don’t show up for Week One).

The Bengals and/or Chiefs also can sign either player to a one-year deal with different terms than the amount of their tender. More money can be offered. A promise can be made to not tag the player in 2023. The only limitation is the length of the contract. It can’t last for more than one year.

Although the franchise tag continues to be a device for keeping otherwise unrestricted free agents off the open market, players continue to have rights under the system. They can go year to year for two years and then, most likely, become unrestricted free agents. (As explaineds in PlaymakersKirk Cousins and Trumaine Johnson proved this point in 2018.)

For Bates, it may take only one year. The Bengals typically let franchise-tagged players leave after a single season under the tag.

Still, for non-quarterbacks, the risk of injury is real. Although the franchise tag pays out a good salary for one season, it doesn’t come with the long-term security that a market-value deal provides, with at least two years of fully-guaranteed salary — or more.

All four franchise-tagged players likely will be playing for their teams in 2022. The question is whether they’ll be there in 2023. And, if not, whether they’ll get the kind of contract on the open market next year that they would have gotten this year.

17 responses to “What’s next for franchise-tagged players?

  1. Perhaps they should call Le’Veon Bell and talk to him before they make any rash decisions.

  2. Jessie Bates wants to be paid like the best safety in the league. Sad news Bro. That’s not you!

  3. We all know the last year of the Brown deal was purely fluff, however Brown could have made 95 mil guaranteed by age 31 and either extended his deal with the Chiefs or signed somewhere else for huge money as a FA. The best linemen age like a fine wine so 31 is pretty young. I think he will regret turning down the deal the Chiefs offered.

  4. I always thought the Ravens should’ve paid Brown instead of Stanley and this was before J.J. Watt fell into Stanley’s ankle.

  5. For Mike Gesicki the next stop is a monster year and a FA deal elsewhere. Miami won’t be able to retain him. He’ll look to head home and sign with the NYG.

    But he will have a memorable final season in Miami.

    Don’t fret too much for the Dolphins, they will be replacing him with the monster TE from Notre Dame……thanks Houston (via SF) for yet another extra first round pick.

    He will pair nicely with the Texas RB Bijan Robinson.

  6. Brown turning down 19 million for 4 years with 38 guaranteed to play with Mahomes is asinine.

  7. How could Brown make more? Coming off a pro bowl season, now he has to exceed his level of play next year. KC knows this, it’s great to bet on yourself, but at the risk of injury and having to prove yourself all over again. Any drop in play, will cost him millions.

  8. Sitting out a year is nuts. Play under the tag and use some of the millions to buy yourself nice insurance against injury. Then cash in the next year. Not such a terrible deal.

  9. While a player can show up without penalty day of game at start of season, seems like risk of injury increases a lot by skipping camp and the conditioning that comes with it. So .. a bold but in the end risky career move.

  10. Why make such a big deal of the terms of the union contract. The players union signed and ratified the contract. Honor the contract, and if you don’t like the terms, negotiate differently the next time.

  11. Ravens dealing Brown for the chiefs 1st Ed pick (Odafe Oweh) was an absolute fleece. Oweh is a stud and will have another four years guaranteed with the Ravens while the Chiefs could be left high and dry with no LT. enjoy Chiefs 🙂 cheers!

  12. If a non quarterback misses games and then shows up after let’s say four games and doesn’t have a great season just a good season they may end up costing themselves a lot of money.

  13. It isn’t a kids’ game. It’s a very violent game with often significant lifetime ramifications health wise. But, like union strikes, no one who sits out (other than Deshaun Watson LOL and that wasn’t voluntary) ever recoups what they lost in wages in the interim. But strikes continue to happen. The difference with a pro athlete is that the window to recoup lost money is much shorter than an average worker. But no one has ever sat out a year and then had their game improved, so caveat emptor if player goes that route.

  14. “Brown could have made 95 mil guaranteed by age 31..” if that is anywhere near true, he should have his head examined for turning it down.

  15. People seem to forget its a zero sum game with a hard salary cap
    Owners pay the team cap.
    The money doesn’t come out of the owners pocket it comes out of other players pockets.

    Tagged players are doing just fine, they are not being cheated or short changed.
    The tag is part of the CBA. Making 16MM instead of 19MM means 3 other players are making 3MM instead of 2MM.
    It all balances.

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