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    NFL Transition Tag: What It Is and How It Works

    What is the NFL transition tag, how does it work, and what are the salary cap figures for the 2024 season?

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    With NFL free agency just around the corner, each team is using every available avenue to retain its key players. While the franchise tag is the most common tool deployed to keep a high-end player off the open market, the NFL’s transition tag is another option for pending free agents.

    What is the transition tag, how does it work, and which player received it in 2024?

    What Is the NFL Transition Tag?

    In many ways, the transition tag is the franchise tag’s rarely-used NFL cousin. Like a franchise tag, a transition tender is a one-year, fully guaranteed contract given to a pending free agent.

    Players on the transition tag can negotiate with other teams during free agency, just like franchised players.

    The transition tag window is the same as the franchise window: Feb. 20 through March 5. Each NFL team can apply one transition or franchise tag per season.

    Two key differences exist between the transition tag and the franchise tag: price and compensation owed to a player’s original team if he changes clubs.

    Transition Tags Are Cheaper Than Franchise Tags

    A franchise-tagged player’s salary is based on the top five salary cap hits at his position over the past five years. In contrast, the transition tag uses the top 10 salary cap hits over the same five-year period.

    These are then divided by the total salary cap over those five years. Once the percentage is calculated, it’s multiplied by the current year’s salary cap to achieve the transition tag number.

    One similarity between the franchise and transition tags is the calculation for players with a significant prior-year salary. Any tagged player must earn at least 120% of his previous season’s cap charge. The player makes the larger number if that figure is higher than the transition tag.

    Here are the 2024 transition tag values:

    • Quarterback: $34.367 million
    • Running back: $9.765 million
    • Wide receiver: $19.766 million
    • Tight end: $10.878 million
    • Offensive line: $19.04 million
    • Defensive end: $19.076 million
    • Defensive tackle: $18.491 million
    • Linebacker: $19.971 million
    • Cornerback: $17.215 million
    • Safety: $13.815 million
    • Special teams: $5.433 million

    Differences in Transition vs. Franchise Tag Compensation

    If a player is assigned the transition tag, he can still negotiate with teams in free agency. However, if a new club offers a deal, the team that tagged him can choose to match that offer. If they do so, the player must sign with his original team.

    However, if the team that tagged the player declines to match the offer, the player is free to leave and join the new team.

    In that case, the player’s initial team does not receive any form of compensation for losing its transition tag recipient. Teams that decline to match franchise-tag offer sheets get two first-round picks in return.

    Which Players Have Received the Transition Tag in Recent Years?

    The New England Patriots used the transition tag on safety Kyle Dugger in 2024, becoming the first NFL team to use the transition tender in four years.

    Aside from Dugger, only five players have been transition-tagged over the past decade:

    • 2020: Kenyan Drake, RB, Arizona Cardinals
    • 2018: Kyle Fuller, CB, Chicago Bears
    • 2015: Charles Clay, TE, Miami Dolphins
    • 2014: Alex Mack, C, Cleveland Browns
    • 2014: Jason Worilds, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    After receiving the transition tag, three of those five players were offered long-term deals by other teams.

    The Browns matched an offer sheet from the Jacksonville Jaguars to retain Mack, while the Bears matched the Green Bay Packers’ contract for Fuller.

    KEEP READING: What Is an NFL Restricted Free Agent?

    Meanwhile, the Dolphins declined to match the Buffalo Bills’ offer sheet for Clay, allowing him to sign with the AFC East rival.

    Miss football? The 2024 NFL Draft is almost here, boss. Pro Football Network has you covered with everything from team draft needs to the Top 100 prospects available. Plus, fire up PFN’s Mock Draft Simulator to put yourself in the general manager’s seat and make all the calls!

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