2018 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker: Rams, Jaguars let young receivers hit open market

Tuesday is National Franchise Tag Day, which is not a real day, but still a day in which NFL teams face a deadline to place the franchise tag on a player of their choosing. 

Dirty refresher: the franchise tag is a one-year, fully-guaranteed contract teams can tender to a player at differing levels of compensation in order to keep them from leaving in free agency. No player may be tagged more than three times in his career (which changed in 2011, call it the Drew Brees Rule), and a third tag is wildly expensive. Each of these tags count the full amount against the salary cap; there's no spreading out the cap hit.  

Here are the full amounts for this year's tag:

QB -- $23,189,000
RB -- $11,866,000
WR -- $15,982,000
TE -- $9,846,000
OL -- $14,077,000
DE -- $17,143,000
DT -- $13,939,000
LB -- $14,961,000
CB -- $14,975,000
S -- $11,287,000
K/P -- $4,939,000

If a player is given the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag, the team and the player have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. If the two sides do not reach an agreement by then, they are not allowed, by CBA rule, to work on a contract until the end of the following season.

The non-exclusive franchise tag means another team can offer the player a contract, but if he signs that deal, the team would be forced to give up two first-round picks to the original team for that player.

The transition tag (see Bears below) allows other clubs to negotiate with the player, but gives the tagging team first right of refusal to match any offer sheet. There is no draft compensation sent back to the tagging team however.

Here are all the notable teams involved in the tag process: 

Miami Dolphins - WR Jarvis Landry

The Dolphins placed the tag on wide receiver Jarvis Landry just about as quick as you could possibly put the tag down, a clear indication that ... they want to trade him? Landry would be a top free agent if he hit the market, but there doesn't appear to have been a ton of interest in other teams for his services in terms of a trade. It's very possible the Dolphins end up rescinding the tag: they've done so before, including with the transition tag on Oliver Vernon a few years ago. Except it appears Landry is going to sign the tag now, in order to facilitate a trade, except he hasn't done so yet. The Bears are considered a top target for his services.


Detroit Lions - DE Ziggy Ansah

The Lions need pass rush help and haven't necessarily seen enough from Ziggy Ansah to commit a huge amount of money to his way, but certainly did not want to let a talented pass rusher leave their building, especially after he produced a 12-sack season in 2017. The tag was a pretty easy option here. Ansah will now get a one-year deal under new coach Matt Patricia, which could pay dividends for both the team and the player, provided they don't work out a new contract by July 15.


Dallas Cowboys - DE Demarcus Lawrence

The biggest problem for the Cowboys is their ability to generate defensive pressure and there was no chance they were going to let one of the top young pass rushers leave town, especially when Lawrence was drafted by the Cowboys and finally managed to break out in the final year of his rookie contract. Lawrence didn't hesitate to sign the tender, and said he views the tag as an opportunity to "break the bank" in 2018. (Spoiler for DeMarcus: if you're really good again in 2018, the Cowboys will tag you again.) 


Los Angeles Rams - S LaMarcus Joyner

The Rams had two options for their tag and ultimately selected to go with safety LaMarcus Joyner over wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The price made sense, as Joyner will cost just $11.29 million versus the $16 million it would cost for Watkins. Additionally, the value of a top-tier safety outweighs that of a potential top-tier wideout on a Sean McVay-run team. Watkins was fine in 2018, but not even the most productive former Buffalo Bills wideout on the Rams roster last year (that would be Robert Woods). As Jason La Canfora noted on CBS Sports HQ Tuesday, steering clear of the $16 million single year deal was smart, and it's possible the Rams could end up finding a way to get Watkins on a single-year, prove-it deal to help him enter free agency next year and really strike gold.

The Rams have exclusive negotiating rights with Watkins until March 14. They have until July 15 to work out a deal with Joyner.


Pittsburgh Steelers - RB Le'Veon Bell

The Steelers couldn't hammer out a deal with Bell before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday and are tagging him for a second straight season, this time north of $14 million. It doesn't sound like the two parties were remotely close and/or will be remotely close in time to hammer out a deal before the July 15 deadline.

It's very possible that Bell plays out the season on the tag again and then tries to push for full-blown free agency, a la Cousins. If he gets through this season, it is likely the Steelers will not tag him next year, because the cost is too prohibitive.

It's remarkable that he's willing to demand what he believes he's worth but boy is it dangerous to do so given the risky nature of playing running back in the NFL


Chicago Bears - Kyle Fuller (Transition Tag)

The Bears got a little creative on Tuesday, deciding to utilize the transition tag for cornerback Kyle Fuller, who was only hitting free agency because GM Ryan Pace declined to pick up his fifth-year option. Fuller has been up and down for Chicago -- when he's been healthy he's been fantastic, and that includes a breakout 2017 season, but he's missed a lot of games. The transition tag gives them first right of refusal for any offer sheets Fuller might get in the open market but they won't receive any compensation if he leaves. The transition tag will cost the Bears $12.97 million instead of $14.9 million for the franchise tag.


Jacksonville Jaguars - NO TAG

It was believed the Jaguars would consider tagging Allen Robinson, but let him know on Tuesday afternoon they did not plan to do so. Jacksonville's front office believes giving Robinson, who is coming off a torn ACL in 2017, a fully guaranteed $16 million, single-year deal would cause issues for them moving forward in terms of managing the salary cap and pursuing other options in free agency. Robinson could see a pretty nice market -- we ranked the possible landing spots for him here.


Carolina Panthers - NO TAG

The Panthers were expected to tag kicker Graham Gano and let Pro Bowl guard Andrew Norwell walk into free agency, a questionable decision forced because of their already steep investment into the offensive line. But instead of having to tag Gano, the Panthers hammered out a deal with their kicker that will give him $9 million guaranteed over four years. Friendly reminder that the Panthers drafted Harrison Butker because of concerns about Gano just two years ago, then put Butker on the practice squad, then lost him to the Chiefs, then watched him blossom into one of the best kickers in the league. Gano was very good too -- great, even -- but the NFL kicking life is a fickle one. It's possible that deal looks questionable as soon as next year. 


Washington Redskins - NO TAG

Notable only because it means the Redskins will not be tagging quarterback Kirk Cousins for a third time, which was not expected, but which was never off the table because sometimes the Redskins peddle in spite.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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