The Franchise Tag was introduced into the National Football League (NFL) in 1993 and has since become a big part of off-season activity around the league prior to the draft and free agency. A played must be paid no less than the average of the top five cap hits at their position for the previous five seasons applied to the salary cap or 120% of the player's previous year salary. This is determined by whichever would be greater and applies to players that are 'non-exclusive' tagged or 'exclusive' tagged. A 'non-exclusive' tag player is able to negotiate with other teams while tagged but if that player gets an offer sheet from a team then their current team has a chance to match the offer.

If their current team lets the player sign with another team then they receive two 1st round draft picks as compensation. An 'exclusive' tag means that the player cannot talk with other teams and their current team is in control of any trade talks with clubs that would want to make an offer.

Who was tagged?

This off-season there were two offensive and four defensive players that were tagged. The Washington Redskins placed the 'exclusive' franchise tag on QB Kirk Cousins for the second straight season, while the Pittsburgh Steelers also put an 'exclusive' tag on RB Le'Veon Bell. On the defensive side, Arizona Cardinals LB Chandler Jones, Carolina Panthers DT Kawann Short, Los Angeles Chargers LB Melvin Ingram, Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson and New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul all received the 'non-exclusive' tag.

This was also the second straight season that Johnson was tagged. These players are now basically secure for another year with their teams as they try to come to hopefully long term agreements.

Players who did not get tagged

Two players who avoided the tag were Cleveland Browns LB Jamie Collins signed a 4 year, $50 million dollar contract in January and Kansas City Chiefs S Eric Berry signed a 6 year, $78 million dollar contract yesterday.

Some of the notable players who did not get tagged or reach a long-term deal were Chicago Bears WR Alshon Jeffery, New England Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower and Cleveland Browns WR Terrelle Pryor. With the new league year for the NFL starting on March 9th, these players and their teams with have a few more days to try and reach a long-term agreement. If they can not reach an agreement then these notable players will hit free agency.