If the New York Jets don’t use the franchise tag, why should they care?
As the NFL’s offseason kicks into its usual gear, where speculation is rife and real news is scarce, an important date on the calendar has arrived.
Beginning Feb. 21 through March 7, the New York Jets, along with all other NFL teams, will have the option of placing a franchise tag on a pending free agent.
What is the franchise label? Why does it exist? Will the Jets use it, and if not, why should they still keep tabs on it?
Franchise label: three types
What is colloquially known as the franchise tag is actually divided into three different tag types. Each beacon has somewhat different rules.
- THE exclusive rights label is the most expensive of the three types. A player receiving such a tag cannot negotiate with any other team. The one-year contract for an exclusive rights label is the average of the player’s position’s top five salaries for the current year or 120% of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. Due to its high price, this tag has only been used four times since 2012, most recently on Le’Veon Bell in 2017.
- THE transition tag gives the player a one-year deal based on the average of the top 10 salaries in the position or 120% of the player’s previous salary, whichever is greater. The player can negotiate with other teams, but the scoring team has the right of first refusal. However, if they do not match the offer, they do not receive any compensation.
- THE non-exclusive tag is the label generally referred to as the “franchise label”. This is a one-year contract with salary based on the average of the position’s top five salaries over the past five years or 120% of his previous salary, whichever is greater. Since the non-exclusive label uses the last five years rather than just the current year, it reduces the number of labels somewhat. A player signed with a non-exclusive tag can negotiate with other teams; the scoring team has the right to match any other offer or receive two first-round picks in return.
For 2023, here’s the non-exclusive franchise tag and transition numbers for each position, per Over the Cap.
Will the NY Jets use the franchise tag?
The most recent Jets player to receive the tag was Marcus Maye in 2021. Maye played the 2021 season under the non-exclusive tag after failing to reach a long-term deal. He then left for the saints in free will.
Prior to that, the Jets hadn’t used the tag since 2016 with Muhammad Wilkerson, and we all know how that long-term deal worked out.
In 2023, the Jets do not have the cap space to use the franchise tag on any player for whom the tag is realistic. If the NFL separated edge runners from off-ball linebackers, perhaps using the tag on Quincy Williams would make sense; however, since they’re all lumped together, the $20.9 million or $17.5 million for the labels is totally out of the question.
Sheldon Rankins is another free agent the Jets probably want to keep, but $18.9 million is likely more than double what they’re willing to pay him.
So the answer is no – the Jets won’t be using the franchise tag this year. But there’s still a good reason for them to keep an eye on the rest of the league tags.
The Big Fish: Lamar Jackson
The Lamar Jackson speculation has largely trumped the Aaron Rodgers/Derek Carr hype for the Jets. However, that doesn’t mean Jackson is out of the question; it’s just that the Ravens have the first shot in this area. In fact, NBC’s Peter King thinks the Jets would strongly consider acquiring Jackson if he became available.
The first question, however, is what the Ravens will do with Jackson. It seems increasingly unlikely that they will reach a long-term agreement before the label deadline. Without the tag, they would lose all leverage over Jackson, who would become an unrestricted free agent.
Consequently, it is widely expected in NFL circles that Jackson will be given the franchise tag. Who tag, however, is the real issue.
The non-exclusive tag would seem the most logical for the Ravens, as it would keep Jackson on a relatively modest salary of $32.4 million for the 2023 season if they don’t reach a long-term deal. As is customary for the Ravens with all their free agents, this would allow Jackson to test his market and return to Baltimore with his best offer. The Ravens could then either match the offer or receive two first-round picks in return.
However, the risk here is twofold: first, if the Ravens TO DO want to retain Jackson, it’s possible (even likely) that another team will find a way to structure the deal so that it’s difficult for Baltimore to line up, the so-called “poison pill.” Even though these have been banned in NFL contracts, teams can still find ways to structure deals in response to other franchises’ cap issues, such as maneuvering cap hits for maximum pain for the franchise. other team.
Second, two first-round picks are probably less than Baltimore can get for Jackson in an outright trade. Russell Wilson brought back two first-rounders, two second-rounders, a fifth-rounder and three players, including the Broncos’ top tight end, Noah Fant. Deshaun Watson’s trade included three first rounds and a third round (as well as a fourth for fifth round traded).
The transition tag isn’t much of an option due to the lack of compensation if the Ravens don’t match an offer. Therefore, the only other option is the exclusive rights tag, which would prevent Jackson from negotiating with another team. However, that would be expensive, as the exclusive tag number for QBs is $45.2 million.
The Ravens are expected to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson. This is the main reason the Jets are keeping tabs on the tag situation around the league. Once the Ravens make their pick on Jackson, they’ll let the rest of the league know what their potential plans with him might be.
If Jackson becomes available and the Jets still haven’t acquired Rodgers or Carr, expect a third big name to enter daily speculation and buzz.
Other candidate tags to watch out for
There are other future free agents the Jets may be interested in, but may receive the tag before entering the market. Of the eight tag candidates listed by NFL.com, only Bills safety Jordan Poyer is a realistic free agent target for the Jets. He’s probably too expensive for the Jets’ current cap if he enters free agency, but his name is worth watching.
The same goes for Jessie Bates, the safety of the Bengals who was already unhappy after being tagged in 2022, and Tashaun Gibson of the 49ers.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is also an interesting name to watch, although for a different reason. Rumor has it that Jones wants $45 million a year in the market. Meanwhile, it looks like the Giants don’t want to tag Jones, but they’ll likely be forced to if that’s his asking price. There’s no way, shape or form in which a player of this caliber is worth nearly $45 million.
Jones’ tag and negotiations could impact the quarterback market, so his case is worth watching. The Seahawks’ Geno Smith is in a similar situation, although he had a stronger season than Jones throwing the ball and will likely receive a higher average annual value.
What do you think, Jets fans, will Lamar Jackson be available? Do you want the Jets to chase him?