Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

01 Mar 2013

2013 Franchise Tags Thread (Latest: Branden Albert)

If NFL teams want to use their franchise or transition tag in 2013, they must do so by Monday afternoon. The following teams have used the franchise tag at this point:

Buffalo Bills: Jairus Byrd, S
Chicago Bears: Henry Melton, DT
Cincinnati Bengals: Michael Johnson, DE
Dallas Cowboys: Anthony Spencer, OLB
Denver Broncos: Ryan Clady, LT
Indianapolis Colts: Pat McAfee, P
Kansas City Chiefs: Branden Albert, LT
Miami Dolphins: Randy Starks, DT

Byrd's tag makes it more likely Andy Levitre hits the free agent market, where he's likely to be a hot commodity. Johnson's tag means the same for Andre Smith, who's really improved from when he first came into the league.

As teams tag additional players, I will be updating this post when I get the chance to do so.

Posted by: Tom Gower on 01 Mar 2013

23 comments, Last at 12 Mar 2013, 6:56am by Franchise Consultant


by Insancipitory :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 12:22am

It was silly to hope Melton could be a Seahawk. :(

by maxnote :: Wed, 03/06/2013 - 12:27am

Yeah, I know. The Dolphins didn't franchise Randy Starks, though, so we could still get him.

Edit: Ha, there goes that idea. I guess it's the draft, then.

by Sifter :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 4:45am

Michael Johnson getting franchised surprises me a little. I wasn't overly impressed with him the few times I saw the Bengals play. OK player, but not a franchise guy to me. Decision could be based on a couple of factors though: a) seems like a deeper FA market for OTs than DEs, so signing a good OT seems easier, and b) Andre Smith's arrest is perhaps a factor here? If so, I wonder how other teams are going to view the big fella. Then again, Bengals are supposed to have heaps of cap so maybe they just sign Smith back anyway and the conjecture means nothing....

by justanothersteve :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 10:30pm

Or they could sign a different LT like Jake Long or Brandon Albert.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 6:14am

Isn't it weird that the Broncos don't just extend Clady? I mean he IS an elite OT - pay the man.

I guess if you're going to end up paying him like the best tackle in the game, you might as well get a "cheap" year with the tag.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 7:55am

Tags also get used simply to extend exclusive rights negotiation time, or as leverage for working out a long term deal. I don't have the numbers but quite a few tagged players never play under the tag, they get a deal worked out before the season starts.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 9:39am

Oh ok - so it's not "final". You can still restructure at any time. But if they make a deal in like a week, the Broncos can't go tag someone else right?

by coboney :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 10:53am

Monday is the final day for tags so no they couldn't. They can withdraw the tag though if the person doesn't sign see what the Seahawks did to Leroy Hill a few years ack

by BK (not verified) :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 1:20pm

Once you tag a guy I don't think you can officially sign them to a long term deal until July.

by Tom Gower :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 1:38pm

Right now, you have until July 15 (pretty sure this is the exact date, or it was last year) to sign them to a multi-year deal. The rule used to be different.

by Jimmy :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 3:19pm

They say that they want to know he is recovered from an injury (shoulder?) before they pony up a contract with a big guarantee. Or they are saying that to try to generate some leverage.

by RickD :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 5:55pm

A tag is not a contract. Clady could hold out for a better deal if that's what he wants to do. Logan Mankins did so a couple years ago.

Like you say, Clady is going to get paid one way or another.

by BroncosGuyAgain :: Sun, 03/03/2013 - 12:42am

It is my understanding that the Broncos used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Clady, meaning he is still free to negotiate with other teams, but a team would sacrifice two first-round draft picks if it successfully signed Clady away. That's a steep price to pay, so the distinction might be academic (other than the tender value). Clady has a shoulder injury that is likely to be unhealed before the July contract deadline. This makes it more unlikely that Clady signs a multi-year contract with any team.

And, as you said, he is not obligated to sign his Broncos tender.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 03/04/2013 - 7:50pm

They certainly tried before last season. The last offer was 5 years for $50 million, if I remember correctly.

by JonFrum :: Sat, 03/02/2013 - 10:42pm

The NFLPA does a terrible job for the rank and file. The 'franchise tag' should be for franchise type players, not - good God - punters. If the union insisted that the franchise tag player be paid a minimum of the average of the top five earners on the team in the previous year, you wouldn't see punters and kickers and safeties getting tagged - the team would have to fish or cut bait. And it wouldn't mean a lot of money over the entire league, so the owners couldn't demand a lot in return. For years, the NFLPA has been a front for the big agents and their top-money clients, and the rank and file have been screwed - and too dumb to know it was happening.

by Jerry :: Sun, 03/03/2013 - 4:07am

I'm pretty sure that the NFLPA goes into every negotiation trying to do away with tags. Eventually they give that up in exchange for something else. No doubt there are similar issues on which management acquiesces. It's all part of the negotiating process.

by justanothersteve :: Sun, 03/03/2013 - 2:04pm

I don't think most players care much about the franchise tag on kickers and punters.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 03/04/2013 - 9:45am

True, and that's probably including the kickers and punters themselves. McAfee (since he's relevant here) does local radio in Indy all the time, and he's made it clear he doesn't object to getting the tag. And why would he? It's $3 million, for a punter!

by LionInAZ :: Sun, 03/03/2013 - 6:47pm

Jerry is right here -- the players hate the franchise tag, because it reduces their ability to negotiate deals on the free market. The tag benefits the owners, regardless of the apparently steep monetary cost.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 03/04/2013 - 9:57am

I would guess that the "have" players hate the tag, and the "have not" players probably don't care that much about it, which is why it never becomes an issue the union is willing to fight for. It allows the teams to hang onto good players, but it doesn't save the owners much of anything in terms of money. There's still a salary cap and floor.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 03/04/2013 - 10:08am

The tag was something the players gave to the owners to get a larger percentage of the total revenue in one of the CBA's. So the NFLPA does care about it. It limits player movement, and limiting player movement limits player salary. It is less of an issue with the current CBA with the much much higher salary floor. The old CBA had some teams spending $50 million and others spending $120 million. This CBA keeps everyone over $100 million ( I don't know the exact number it may be more or less ). But it's my understand the tags and the floor were linked in negotiations again. The owners wanted the tag numbers to be lower and going with the top 5 over the last 5 years did that, the players pushed for a higher floor.

So tags aren't as bad now and it really should be renamed from franchise to limited rights because, well that is what it is as it essentially turns the player into a restricted free agent. That's a category that is going to go away too with the new rookie contracts, there will be very few players that have less than four years of experience when their first contract runs out now.

by Dice :: Mon, 03/04/2013 - 2:21pm

Your comment made my day, JonFrum.

Some men are born to greatness, others have it thrust upon them. Me? I punted.

by Franchise Consultant (not verified) :: Tue, 03/12/2013 - 6:56am

Yes i also guess they have time till July 15th, but once they sign i think it is going to be long term deal.