On February 22, the Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL can use the 2022 franchise tag on an unrestricted free agent who is set to hit free agency when the new league year starts on March 16. Today, we will dive into exactly what a franchise tag is, how it works, and whether or not the Cowboys will use it?
What is the franchise tag?
The franchise tag is essentially a one-year contract that guarantees a predetermined salary for players who are set to become unrestricted free agents. The salary amount is set by the averaging the top five salaries by position for the previous league year, or if it’s higher, 120 percent of the player’s salary the previous season. Only one player can be designated with the franchise tag, and teams have to decide which type of tag to use.
Types of NFL franchise tags
- Exclusive - On the “exclusive” franchise tag players cannot negotiate with other teams and are locked into the contract once it is applied.
- Non-exclusive - The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but if a competing team makes the free agent a contract offer, the original team has the right to match it. If they don’t match the offer, they get two first-round picks in compensation.
- Transition tag - The transition tag is similar to the non-exclusive tag, except the player gets paid an average of the top 10 salaries at his position, rather than top five. Transition-tagged players are free to negotiate with other teams, but unlike non-exclusive players, the original team gets no compensation if it fails to match an offer.
How does the franchise tag work?
A franchise tag is basically a tool used to acquire one year of service when a team has failed, or needs more time, to work out a contract extension with one of their pending unrestricted free agents. After placing the tag on a player the team has a specific window to work out a long-term contract. In 2022 the deadline to come to terms on a contract extension with tagged players is when the new league year starts on March 16. If both parties can’t agree to terms on an extension, they must wait for the following offseason.
Projected numbers for the 2022 franchise tag
*Projected franchise tag numbers according to Overthecap.com
- Quarterback: $28.6 million
- Running Back: $15.5 million
- Wide Receiver: $19.1 million
- Tight End: $10.8 million
- Offensive Line: $16.7 million
- Defensive Tackle: $16.9 million
- Defensive End: $20.2 million
- Linebacker: $17.4 million
- Cornerback: $17.3 million
- Safety: $13.5 million
- Punter/Kicker: $5.5 million
2 franchise tag candidates for the Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys last used the franchise tag on Dak Prescott in 2020 and the year prior on DeMarcus Lawrence in 2019. Both times they utilized the tag in order to buy them a little extra time to work out a long-term extension and could do the same in 2022, although it’s unlikely. But, they do have two potential candidates.
- Dalton Schultz - Dalton Schultz has developed into one of the top tight ends in the NFL and become a primary target for Dak Prescott in the passing game. Retaining his services on a contract extension will likely be out of the Cowboys price range. The same is probably true on the franchise tag as well, which would cost nearly $11 million in 2022 alone.
- Randy Gregory - Although the Cowboys would love to retain No. 94’s services for the foreseeable future, their current salary-cap situation may prevent them from offering a contract better, or close to, what he could receive on the open market. If money wasn’t a problem the franchise tag would make sense, however, the $20.2 million price tag for defensive ends is even more than it would take to lock in the long-term.