It’s not the most convenient option, but the franchise tag is sometimes the only way to keep a player under contract.
NFL teams face a lot of tough decisions in the offseason. Between restructuring contracts, working out new deals, signing free agents and letting others walk (all while staying under the salary cap), there isn’t much room for error. Every move must be planned in accordance with long-term financial blueprints.
What teams and players want are often two different things, though. That’s where the franchise tag comes in.
Beginning on Feb. 18, teams will be allowed to apply the franchise tag to one player. Every team has just one tag to use, though many choose to forgo the option. In 2012, only 21 of the 32 teams used a franchise tag.
The basic idea of a franchise tag is to sign a player to a one-year contract with the compensation being the average of the top-five salaries at that particular position. The option allows teams another year to negotiate a long-term deal, or simply have that player for another year of service until he is scheduled to hit the open market again.
Organizations can use their franchise tag from February 18 to March 4, but by March 12, every team in the league must be below the salary cap (about $121 million for next season).
Let's take a look at seven players their teams would be wise to retain this offseason—likely in the form of a franchise tender—and break down the odds of those players remaining with their current team in 2013.