Breakdowns

How NFL Front-Office Execs Should Be Approaching the Franchise Tag

We’ve talked a lot this week about the NFL’s franchise tag and how teams should use it. The tag became available on Feb. 23 and teams have until March 9 if they choose to designate a player with the tag. This year’s smaller salary cap definitely alters the dynamics of how both teams and players view the tag.

On this week’s 33rd Team call, former Eagles president Joe Banner and former Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand were among the front-office execs who shared their thoughts. The franchise tag and free agency go hand in hand. As Banner noted, there will still be a strong market for the top free agents. What happens next is the tricky part.

“We’re gonna see that pool of money start to dry up,” said Banner. “So a lot of players are going to face some tough decisions, whether they’re better off taking an okay one-year deal versus a mediocre long-term deal. The one-year deal obviously gives them a chance to come back next year. That translates into some of the potential franchise tag players as well. I think of (Taylor) Moton at Carolina. The tag’s only $13.5 million. I think he stands to make a lot more than that. But in this particular year maybe there isn’t a lot more than that. So maybe he doesn’t mind getting a one-year deal, getting tagged, and then going back to the market next year when the cap goes up $20 or $30 million.”

Watch now: Banner on the Franchise Tag

Lewand offered his thoughts on the franchise tag as well, and gave an example from his time with Detroit.

“There were some players as the years went on that saw it as more advantageous than less in some circumstances,” said Lewand. “In our case, the best example is what we did with Cliff Avril in 2012. Cliff was a second-round draft choice coming off his rookie deal. In 2011, he had the best year of his career… really a productive contract year for him. We tagged him with the idea of working out a long-term deal.”

Avril had an okay season in 2012, but it was a step down from his 2011 campaign, so the Lions chose to let him pursue free agency the following year. He signed with the Seahawks for the 2013 season.

Watch now: Lewand on the franchise tag

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