Tha Sports Junkies 101

Franchise-Tagged No More

Larry Rose Photography via


It is commonly perceived that a player will perform better in their contract years, and in 2014, the Society for American Baseball Research conducted an investigation attempting to prove this theory.

They were able to confirm this idea, concluding that players entering their contract year saw their effectiveness improved by nearly 7%, compared to players that were coasting to their eventual retirement who displayed a steady decline in production until they hung up the cleats.

What makes the NFL unique is that a team can use a franchise tag to retain a player and prolong long-term contract talks.

This article aims to examine player’s situations who are currently under their team’s franchise tag, and look at some of the most intriguing players entering their contract year’s who have yet to ink a long-term deal.

But first of all it’s important to define what a franchise tag is.

A term that is thrown around often but rarely completely understood.

There are two types of franchise tags; exclusive and non-exclusive.

  • An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
  • A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player’s position for the previous five years applied to the current salary cap, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

So, with your head filled with some newly-found understanding of franchise tags, let’s look at some of the franchise player situations yet to be resolved entering the 2016 season:

Von Miller: Denver Broncos, Defensive End

Last year’s stats: 30 tackles, 11 sacks, 4 fumbles forced.

ICYMI, Von Miller and the Denver Broncos agreed to a 6-year $114.5m, which includes $70 million in guaranteed money.

Looks like the stubbornness and waiting paid off and this defensive game-changer will be in a Denver Broncos uniform for the foreseeable future.

With double-digit sacks in 4 of the last 5 years, maybe, just maybe, Von is worth this absurd price tag.

Eric Berry: Kansas City Chiefs, Safety

Last year’s stats: 61 tackles, 2 interceptions

Today, the Kansas City Chiefs organization announced it would not be giving Eric Berry the long-term deal he was hoping for.

If these two sides don’t meet in the middle before next season, Eric Berry will be a free agent.

It will be interesting to see if his production goes up this season as he tries to impress other teams that might offer him a deal heading into 2017.

Alshon Jeffery: Chicago Bears, Wide Receiver

Last year’s stats: 9 games, 54 receptions, 800 yards, 4 TDs

As of this writing, the deadline has passed and Alshon Jeffery and the Bears failed to reach a long-term deal.

While the Bears were trying desperately to compromise with Jeffery and his agent, no agreement was reached, which leaves Alshon Jeffery heading into the 2016 season with an uncertain future.

If him and Cutler can stay healthy, Jeffery should be able to pack the stat sheet to bursting as he uses this season to convince other teams to cough up some big money to get this offensive weapon for the 2017 season.

Trumaine Johnson: Los Angeles Rams, Defensive Back

Last year’s stats: 14 games, 71 tackles, 7 INTs, 17 pass deflections

The Rams and Johnson failed to find common ground today during contract talks which leaves the player who had the third most interceptions in the NFL last season playing on a franchise tag this year.

Muhammad Wilkerson: New York Jets, Defensive Line

Last year’s stats: 64 tackles, 12 sacks

Like most of the players mentioned above, Wilkerson finds himself without long-term job security entering the 2016 season. Other teams will be licking their chops with hopes of acquiring one of the league’s best pass rushers for the 2017 season.

Wilkerson stayed far away from OTAs and minicamp and was expected to hold out well into camp if not the season.

He signed a five year, $85 million contract today to remain Gang Green through the prime of his career.


Kirk Cousins: Washington Redskins, Quarterback

Last year’s stats: 4,166 yds, 29 TDs, 11 INTs

Kirk Cousins put together an impressive 2015 campaign compiling the above-average stat line shown above. Both parties have expressed interest in staying together, but according to Washington’s front office, they need to find a deal that makes sense for the team and player.

Said differently, Kirk needs to get a little less greedy or else he will find himself on the free agent block next year (which might not be the worst career move).

One interesting thing to note is that the Redskins didn’t hesitate when it came to paying their tight end, Jordan Reed after his career-year during 2015.

Two other notable players entering contract years yet to sign a long-term deal are Le’Veon Bell and Michael Floyd.