Free Agency is right around the corner, set to officially begin on Mar. 9. However, the big news in NFL circles on Wednesday was the opening of the two-week window in which teams can franchise or transition tag players.
While these tags have recently been used less frequently throughout the league, last year saw the most players tagged since 2011. In all, nine teams used the franchise tag: the Baltimore Ravens (Justin Tucker), Buffalo Bills (Cordy Glenn), Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery), Denver Broncos (Von Miller), Kansas City Chiefs (Eric Berry), Los Angeles Rams (Trumaine Johnson), New York Jets (Muhammed Wilkerson), Washington Redskins (Kirk Cousins) and Carolina Panthers (Josh Norman – later rescinded). Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins were the lone team to use the transition tag, which they placed on Olivier Vernon.
The Los Angeles Chargers have rarely used either tag. They have used the franchise tag only six times in history:
1993 Leslie O'Neal
1997 Tony Martin
2000 Norman Hand
2005 Drew Brees
2009 Darren Sproles
2011 Vincent Jackson
Meanwhile, they have used the transition tag on just three players:
1993 Ronnie Harmon
1993 Harry Swayne
1994 Anthony Miller
Per the NFL, teams can designate a player with the exclusive franchise tag, non-exclusive franchise tag or transition tag, but are limited to using only one per year.
The franchise tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position, or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater. A team who uses the exclusive tag has all negotiating rights to the player. If a team uses the non-exclusive tag, a player can negotiate with other teams, but his previous organization has the right to match any offer or receive two first-round picks as compensation.
The transition tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may receive from another team.
Thus, there are 13 pending unrestricted free agents the Chargers can place a tag on including S Jahleel Addae, QB Kellen Clemens, TE Jeff Cumberland, RB Ronnie Hillman, OLB Melvin Ingram, NT Sean Lissemore, CB Robert McClain, RB Dexter McCluster, NT Damion Square, ILB Manti Te'o, OLB Tourek Williams, LS Mike Windt and RB Danny Woodhead.
The cost for the franchise tag will be determined once the NFL announces the salary cap for this season. However, ESPN's John Clayton provided these following projected numbers to use as a guideline:
Quarterback - $21,588.871
Defensive End – $16,988,266
Wide Receiver – $15,795,917
Linebacker - $15,287,383
Cornerback - $15,095,872
Offensive Lineman - $14,829,703
Defensive Tackle - $14,770,194
Running Back - $12,755,536
Safety - $11,691,943
Tight End - $9,865,550
Kicker/Punter - $4,946,841