We have reached the time of the NFL year where franchise tag values and restricted free agent (RFA) tenders become hot topics around the league. Let’s take a look at how the franchise tag and RFA tender values are determined by the NFL each year.
NFL franchise tag values
The NFL franchise tag values are somewhat complicated by there being two different numbers, depending on the type of tag applied. Further complicating matters is the presence of the transition tag, which carries a different number altogether.
When it comes to the franchise tag, the two types are relatively simple in terms of procedure. The exclusive franchise tag means that other teams cannot negotiate with tagged players. Meanwhile, the non-exclusive tag does allow players to negotiate with other teams. That team can offer the player a contract, but if the team that applied the tag does not match the offer, the team acquiring the player must send two first-round picks in exchange for the player.
How are the franchise tag values calculated?
As you might expect, the values of the two franchise tags differ. For the exclusive franchise tag, the number is not set in stone at the time it is given. Instead, players receiving the exclusive franchise tag must wait until after a set period of free agency, usually 4-6 weeks. Then the value is the average of the top five players’ average annual value at their position at that point in time.
So, for example, if the top five players’ average value were $25 million at a position, then a player receiving the exclusive franchise tag would get that salary for the year.
For the non-exclusive tag, the value is calculated using the top five contracts at the respective position over the last five years. The tag numbers from the last five years are added together and divided by the sum of the salary cap from those years. The resulting number is then multiplied by the salary cap in the current season.
For example, let’s say the sum of the franchise tag for a position in the last five years was $50 million and the sum of the salary caps in that time was $250 million. The league would then divide $50 million by $250 million to get 0.2. Therefore, that franchise tag number would be 20% of the salary cap for the new year. Let’s say that number was $100 million — then the franchise tag would be worth $20 million.
2022 non-exclusive franchise tag values
On March 7, the NFL announced the values for each position. They are based on a salary cap of $208,200,000 per club in 2022.
- Running Back
- Wide Receiver
- Tight End
- Offensive Linemen
- Defensive Tackle
- Defensive End
- Special Teams
2022 transition tag values
The transition tag is less commonly utilized than the franchise tag. Using the transition tag ensures teams the right of first refusal on any contract offered to the player they tag. The team applying the tag gets seven days to decide whether to match the offer sheet given to their player. Furthermore, if they decide not to match the offer, no compensation is sent to the team applying the tag.
The value of the transition tag is calculated in a similar way to that of the franchise tag. The main difference is that instead of the top five players at the position, it is the top 10 that is used to set the value. Let’s take a look at the values for 2022 based on a salary cap of $208,200,000.
- QB: $27,186,000
- RB: $8,034,000
- WR: $16,782,000
- TE: $9,392,000
- OL: $15,348,000
- DT: $14,716,000
- DE: $16,012,000
- LB: $15,783,000
- CB: $15,167,000
- S: $10,817,000
- ST: $4,701,000
Players are eligible for a restricted free agent tender if they are out of contract but have just three years of accredited NFL service time. Teams have the choice between four different tenders, ranging from a first-round tender to a right of first refusal tender. Each tender allows the team applying it to have the opportunity to match any offer sheet that their player signs with another team.
The difference between the four tenders is the compensation that team receives if they decide not to match the offer sheet. The first-round tender means the team receives a first-round selection in return. A second-round tender gives a second-round selection. The original-round tender can be applied to later round picks and means the team gets back a draft pick in the round they used on that player. The right of first refusal tender comes with no compensation.
As you might expect, the different tenders come with varying contract values for the player. The value of each tender is calculated by dividing the previous years’ tender value by the salary cap and then multiplying it by the salary cap in the current year. Here are RFA tender values for the four levels in 2022, according to Spotrac with a projected cap of $208,200,000.
- Right of First Refusal: $2,433,000
- Original-Round Tender: $2,540,000
- Second-Round Tender: $3,986,000
- First-Round Tender: $5,432,000