NFL 2024 Salary Cap Boom Could Cause Key Shift in Offseason Strategies

The NFL's significant salary cap increase for the 2024 regular season could lead to a shift in how teams utilize the franchise tags.

The NFL on Friday announced a major salary cap increase for the 2024 season, and the change could have a domino effect around the league.

The whopping $30.6 million increase will result in a record-high cap of $255.4 million, which surely was welcome news for all 32 teams. Of course, the salary cap boom will enable teams to spend more money in free agency, but it also could cause a notable shift in how franchises handle in-house free agents.

NFL Teams Might Be More Willing To Use Franchise Tags

Teams have until 4 p.m. ET on March 5 to assign franchise tags, which lock a given player under contract for one season at a rate specific to their position.

Sometimes tags are used solely to keep a player on a roster; other times they’re used to buy both sides more time as they negotiate a long-term deal. Occasionally, disgruntled players hold out in protest of playing under the franchise tag. Tag-and-trades also happen once in a while.

The one-year salaries for each of the three tags — you can click here for a breakdown of the differences — are determined by averaging the top salaries at a player’s position. So, the tags can be quite expensive, which is why teams are hesitant to use them.

But this offseason could be different. With more salary cap space at their disposal, teams could be more willing to use franchise tags. That could be especially true for franchises who weren’t planning for such a huge cap increase.

“As recently as last week, teams were budgeting for a 2024 cap in the low-to-mid 240 (million),” CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones reported on Friday. “Many teams usually plan conservatively, putting their plan together with a cap number lower than expected just in case anything wonky happens.”

Jones added: “The massive cap increase this year could encourage teams to use the franchise tag more freely. With an extra $10 million in cap space for those who budgeted in the mid-240s, the tag now becomes more of a tool for teams to retain their top would-be free agent. Outside of tag candidates, just about any projection for a pending free agent’s salary should increase as well.”

What Are the Projected Franchise Tag Salaries For 2024?

The NFL also revealed projected salaries for players playing under the franchise tag or transition tag.

Here’s how it breaks down for the franchise tag and transition tag, which average the top five and top 10 salaries, respectively, for each position:

FRANCHISE TAG
Quarterback: $38.3 million
Running Back: $11.9 million
Wide Receiver: $21.8 million
Tight End: $12.6 million
Offensive linemen: $20.9 million
Defensive end: $21.3 million
Defensive tackle: $22.1 million
Linebacker: $24 million
Cornerback: $19.8 million
Safety: $17.1 million
Kicker/Punter: $5.9 million

TRANSITION TAG
Quarterback: $34.3 million
Running Back: $9.7 million
Wide Receiver: $10.7 million
Tight End: $10.8 million
Offensive linemen: $19 million
Defensive end: $19 million
Defensive tackle: $18.4 million
Linebacker: $19.9 million
Cornerback: $17.2 million
Safety: $13.8 million
Kicker/Punter: $5.4 million

It’s important to note there are certain exceptions and nuances. For example, due to NFL guidelines, New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry would be due a 20% increase on his 2023 salary cap number if franchise-tagged, resulting in a salary closer to $19 million. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is in a similar situation.

KEEP READING: NFL Salary Cap To Increase $30 Million in 2024

But the league’s salary cap increase might even make those salaries more palatable. When we look up on March 5, we might see a record number of franchise tags used around the NFL.

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