A Look at Franchise Tags from 2011-2020

As the NFL heads into the offseason, a key date on the league calendar is February 23rd and March 9th, the window in which teams can utilize either the franchise or transition tag. As we get closer to the date, I wanted to take a look at the historic usage of tags between 2011-2020:

  • Teams have used the franchise or transition tag 99 times
  • 55 of the 99 (55%) players tagged did NOT reach a long-term extension with their incumbent team, prior to the deadline to sign tagged players to extensions
  • Le’Veon Bell, Kirk Cousins, and Dak Prescott are the only 3 of the 99 players tagged who have received the “exclusive” designation
  • Teams that have applied the tag the most are the Chiefs (7), Cowboys (6), and Steelers/Dolphins/Broncos/WFT (5)
  • Teams that have applied the tag the fewest are the Packers (0), Texans/Seahawks (1), and Eagles/Lions/Raiders/Titans/Falcons/49ers/Saints/Vikings/Bills/Buccaners (2)
  • Positional groups seeing the most tags are Linebackers (18), Defensive Ends (15) and Kickers (10)
  • Positional groups seeing the fewest tags are Cornerbacks (5), Tight Ends (5), and Punters (2)

The graph below illustrates the usage of tags by year, with last year seeing the most tags since 2012.

If the salary cap is set to the widely reported figure of $180.5M, the franchise tag numbers for 2021 would be as projected below. 

The table below compares the 2021 projected franchise tag numbers with last year’s tag numbers.           

Position2021 Projected2020% Change

 A silver lining that teams may recognize from the expected salary cap decline is the discounted rate of franchise tags this season. For example, working off the 2021 projected tag numbers, it would only cost the Packers around $8M to tag Aaron Jones. While the Packers are currently $19M over the cap, if they can manage to create enough capspace through restructures and cuts to take on a $8M cap charge for Jones, it would be excellent value. Jones has the production to earn a deal valued in the top 5 of the RB market and the salary for that point in the market starts at $12.5M. With the 2021 tag numbers dropping at least 7%, year over year, across the board, it would not be shocking to see more teams using the tag, than typically in years past.