Justin Houston: Demystifying the Franchise Tag

When Justin Houston signs his franchise tender, he will be due 13.3 million. The compensation figure comes from an average of the top five players salary at that position. Houston led the NFL last season with a total of 22 sacks. He broke the club record once established by the late Derrick Thomas. One more and he would have matched or maybe broken the record of Michael Strahan. There has been some confusion on exactly what Justin’s status is. The goal here is to bring awareness and just the facts without the acrimony. Some fans are calling Houston lazy, that he only cares about money, and should be at every practice and OTAs, regardless of his contract status. I do not share the opinion of fans who think he owes them 24/7. First, we shall define the franchise tag and the different types of tag used by teams. The NFL introduced the franchise tag in 1993. There are two types of franchise tag designations: the exclusive rights franchise tag, and non-exclusive rights franchise tag: From the Wikipedia definition: "An "exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player's team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player." "A "non-exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player's position for the previous five years applied to the current salary cap, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation." The Chiefs have used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Justin Houston. This means that he is entitled to receive offers and, again, sign an offer sheet as listed; the Chiefs have a right to match the offer or receive the two first round draft choices as compensation. Few teams attempt to sign such a player because of the high price. Is Justin Houston worth the high price? I would say yes; however, the cost is steep. Moreover, whatever the cost, that team would have to negotiate a contract with him very quickly. As a Chiefs fan, I would sincerely hope the team does not decide that he is expendable. Houston is entering the prime of his career. There are teams out there that dream of having one pass rusher half as good as Houston. If the team decides they cannot keep him, they had better get something worthwhile in return. "Under the Capped years, a team can designate one additional player only as a transitional tag. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's prior year's salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation." Right now, Justin is not under contract, but the Chiefs hold his rights. Houston shouldn't be criticized for wanting a raise. Some fans forget the expectations for Houston when he entered the league. A first round talent from Georgia, he slipped to the third because of drug charge for having marijuana. Since then, he hasn't had a single red flag against him. He does not have a contract and will continue to be without the contract until he signs the franchise tag they used to retain his services back in March. Justin is a consummate pro and is staying in shape, regardless of the perception of fans. He has until the tenth week of the season to sign and receive credit for a full season, a requirement to get to the goal of free agency in 2016. Does this mean he will sit out of practices and games until the tenth week? Maybe. He could sit out, but it might also send a signal to teams considering signing him next year. I doubt his agent would advise him to do so. Nevertheless, he is free to make the choice and the Chiefs can only wait until he signs the tender. The tag situation is complex. By exploring the meanings of the various tags and how they apply in this situation, perhaps you will have less anxiety, and Chiefs' fans can begin looking forward to the start of the season. Millissa Beaton is a graduate of National Football Post's Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Follow her on Twitter @SportsWizard28
Millissa Beaton
I Love My Kansas City Chiefs. I enjoy talking sports and am also writing about them too. Everyday I want to improve. I value my friends, family, working out. Batman, Star Wars & X-Files fan. I want to work in the field. I am forming my own radio show with my good friend @tweaked74 . Give us a listen to learn about what your favorite team is doing. We will have great guests and would love to hear from you! Go to Blogtalkradio.com

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