The NFL offseason is beginning to kick into high gear, and Tuesday represents a big step in the process.
That's when teams can start applying the franchise or transition tag to players about to enter free agency. The window to use one of the tags extends to March 9, ahead of the start of the 2021 league year March 17.
The franchise tag is an easy mechanism with which to retain a key star, and it could be especially valuable this offseason because of the financial issues teams face amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reported last Thursday the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to raise the salary-cap floor from $175 million to $180 million. According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, the salary cap could settle between $180 million and $185 million, a sizable drop from the 2020 cap of $198.2 million.
Not only do teams have less money to spend, but the franchise tag will also be lower than it was in 2020 for first-timers since it's based partially on the upcoming salary cap.
For the second successive offseason, quarterback Dak Prescott will likely dominate a lot of the conversation. Prescott's gruesome ankle injury is unlikely to dent his value, and tagging the two-time Pro Bowler would help the Dallas Cowboys avoid a bidding war.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported fans can "expect" the Cowboys to tag Prescott if they can't work out a long-term deal:
Receivers Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay were also listed as candidates for franchise tags.
Likewise, Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry and Denver Broncos safety Justin Simmons could be tagged for the second year in a row. Tagging these players would cost significantly more than a player tagged for the first time as the contract would be based on last season's salary cap.
No team may have more intrigue than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since both Shaquil Barrett and Godwin are due to become free agents. The reigning Super Bowl champions can only tag one of the two, and Barrett has said he wants a long-term contract after spending 2020 on the franchise tender.
Here's a list of how each team uses the franchise or transition tag as the offseason unfolds.
Denver Broncos: FS Justin Simmons (via Rapoport)
Green Bay Packers:
Kansas City Chiefs:
Las Vegas Raiders:
Los Angeles Chargers:
Los Angeles Rams:
New England Patriots:
New Orleans Saints:
New York Giants:
New York Jets:
San Francisco 49ers:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Washington Football Team:
QB: $24.112 million
RB: $11.112 million
WR: $16.43 million
TE: $10.167 million
OL: $14.507 million
DE: $17.752 million
DT: $14.178 million
LB: $15.657 million
CB: $15.266 million
S: $11.196 million
ST: $4.792 million
via Over the Cap