The 10 NFL players designated with a franchise tag

By Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange  |  March 1, 2016 at 5:37 PM
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Ten marquee free agents had their hands tied by their current employers on Tuesday, the deadline to designate players with the restrictive transition and franchise tag.

Only one, Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, was given the exclusive franchise tag that prohibits negotiations with other teams.

The tag is not always welcomed by pending free agents seeking big bonuses and massive guarantees, but players who sign the one-year tender are guaranteed a payday equal to the top-five salaries for the position in 2016.

Four of the five players designated franchise players in 2015 signed long-term deals. The exception was New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, whose July 4 fireworks accident claimed part of his hand and caused the Giants to pull the offer.

A breakdown of the NFL's annual springtime tag game:

FS Eric Berry, Chiefs

Photo by Erik Williams/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $10,806,000

Outlook: GM John Dorsey said last week at the NFL Scouting Combine and repeated Tuesday that a long-term deal is the only goal for both sides. Berry, 27, was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2015. He can take solace in the approach the Chiefs took in this very scenario last summer, ending with franchised outside linebacker Justin Houston signing a $100 million deal in July.

QB Kirk Cousins, Redskins

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $19,953,000

Outlook: The one-year, $19.95 million cap hit next season would slot Cousins 10th among all quarterbacks -- ahead of Cam Newton and Aaron Rodgers -- after he made $660,000 in 2015. The impetus is there for the Redskins to push for a long-term deal if they want Cousins present for offseason workouts and minicamp, and to lower the cap number to a more manageable value.

OLT Cordy Glenn, Bills

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $13,706,000

Outlook: Another non-exclusive tag, there could be interest in Glenn if teams can sell general manager Doug Whaley in a tag-and-trade for something less than the two first-round picks as compensation. Glenn, a former second-round pick, is just 26 and with 61 NFL starts, a five-year deal averaging $12 million per season is not out of the realm of possibility.

WR Alshon Jeffery, Bears

Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $14,599,000

Outlook: Injuries kept Jeffery at half speed even when he was on the field in 2015 and he ended the season on injured reserve. He currently slots between Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ($15.2 million) and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant ($13.7 million), two receivers who were given the franchise tag in 2015 only to get near identical long-term deals in July. Jeffery is "worth the risk" to coach John Fox despite being hobbled last year and few teams are in better salary-cap position than Chicago to work out a new deal.

CB Trumaine Johnson, Rams

Photo by Jim Bryant/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $13,952,000

Outlook: The Rams' healthy salary-cap situation affords the opportunity to use the franchise marker on Johnson in a decision that came down to one corner or the other, and Los Angeles is letting Janoris Jenkins go to the open market next week. Johnson, 26, made $1.54 million last season when he emerged as a top cover man in a press scheme because of his long arms at 6 feet 2, 208 pounds. Johnson was a third-round pick from Montana in 2012.

OLB Von Miller, Broncos

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

2016 exclusive franchise tag value: $14,129,000

Outlook: Vonnie B'Vsean Miller Jr. turns 27 next month and could get a deal that reaches or exceeds the $114 million contract the Miami Dolphins gave Ndamukong Suh in March 2015. He has 60 sacks since the Broncos drafted him second overall in 2011 and showed his difference-making skill set on the game's greatest stage as Super Bowl 50 MVP. The exclusive franchise tag was last used by the Saints to retain Drew Brees in 2012. Richard Seymour (2010) was the last defensive player to get the EFT designation. The history of the Broncos' tag use is on Miller's side, too. In 2012, Matt Prater was tagged. A year later, left tackle Ryan Clady. Last spring, Demaryius Thomas. All three had new contracts by mid-July.

CB Josh Norman, Panthers

Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $13,952,000

Outlook: Norman turns 29 during the 2016 season and that might become a sticking point between the brash cornerback and general manager Dave Gettleman. Richard Sherman's cap figure in 2016 is the highest of all corners at $17 million and Darrelle Revis (Jets) is second at $14.8 million. Under the franchise tender, Norman would be third. When the Panthers tagged defensive end Greg Hardy in 2014, no progress was made toward a new agreement, but off-field implications were enormous.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets

Photo by Rich Kane/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $15,701,000

Outlook: Wilkerson had 10 sacks last season and is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense. But he just became the NFL's highest-paid defensive end and given the team's strapped cap situation, the Jets would like to find a way to reduce his cap number with a long-term deal. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, a three-time defensive player of the year, has a cap figure $2.2 million lower than Wilkerson's franchise value next season.

K Justin Tucker, Ravens

Photo by David Tulis/UPI

2016 franchise tag value: $4,572,000

Outlook: A one-year salary that would exceed Tucker's income from the previous four seasons combined is not onerous for the Ravens. Their cap is in good enough shape even before expected veteran maneuvers involving left tackle Eugene Monroe and quarterback Joe Flacco. A long-term deal could be in the $16 million range over four or five years.

DE Olivier Vernon, Dolphins

Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

2016 transition tag value: $12,734,000

Outlook: Widely reported as a tag-and-trade maneuver in Miami, Vernon can be signed without draft pick compensation, and that's what foiled the Dolphins' plan with tight end Charles Clay when he was transition-tagged and then bolted on a $40 million pact with the Bills last March. Vernon is considered a top-15 free agent in the 2016 class and will have suitors. The difference between the transition and franchise tags, the Dolphins are not compensated if they choose not to match an offer from another team.

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