Dec 6, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) makes a catch against Detroit Lions strong safety Duron Harmon (26) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bears WR Allen Robinson accepts franchise tag

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson has accepted his franchise tag for the 2021 season, the NFL Network reported on Thursday.

Robinson’s decision to accept the franchise tag came one day after the Bears reportedly visited with free agent wide receiver Kenny Golladay.

Robinson will be paid $17.88 million under the tag this season. He made a base salary of $10.9 million in 2020 with bonuses upping the total to $13 million, per Spotrac.

Robinson, 27, and the Bears have until July 15 to reach a long-term contract extension.

Robinson recorded a career-high 102 catches and a team-best 1,250 receiving yards in 2020. His six touchdown receptions trailed only tight end Jimmy Graham (eight) for the club lead.

Robinson has 457 catches for 5,999 yards and 39 touchdowns in 88 career games with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Bears. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 with the Jaguars.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) is interviewed by Fox Sports after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The Buccaneers defeated the Raiders 45-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin signs franchise tender

Dec 19, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay (30) runs against Buffalo Bills linebacker A.J. Klein (54) during the first quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin signed his one-year franchise tender worth $15.9 million for the 2021 season.

Godwin was one of a number of players set for free agency before the Buccaneers used the franchise marker to retain him prior to the March 9 deadline.

Godwin can negotiate with other teams under the “non-exclusive” tag. The Buccaneers retain a right to match any contract offer. Should Godwin sign with another team and the offer is not matched, that team must send two first-round draft picks to Tampa Bay.

Godwin turned 25 in February and pairs with Mike Evans to form one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. He had 65 catches for 840 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020 despite dealing with injuries that included his finger, hip and quadriceps.

–Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2020; Landover, Maryland, USA; Washington Football Team guard Brandon Scherff (75) prepares to block against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half at FedExField. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington All-Pro G Brandon Scherff signs franchise tender

Four days after being issued the franchise tag for the second consecutive season, Washington All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff officially signed his franchise tender Friday, becoming the second tagged player to do so.

NFL.com reports that Scherff, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and named to his first All-Pro team after the 2020 season, is slated to earn over $18 million for next season unless he can agree to a long-term extension. The deadline for that extension is July 15.

The 29-year-old, a veteran of six seasons who has been a full-time starter when healthy since entering the league, made $15.03 million while under the franchise tag last season.

Originally a first-round pick (No. 5 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft by Washington out of Iowa, Scherff has started in all 78 games he has played in. He started 13 games last season before finishing the campaign on injured reserve with an MCL sprain.

Scherff joins Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Taylor Moton as the only tagged players to have accepted their franchise deals of the 10 who received the designation. One of those 10, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, has already signed a long-term contact (four years, $160 million) since being tagged.

The other players to receive franchise tag designations include wide receivers Allen Robinson II (Chicago Bears) and Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), tackle Cam Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars), defensive lineman Leonard Williams (New York Giants) and safeties Justin Simmons (Denver Broncos), Marcus Williams (New Orleans Saints) and Marcus Maye (New York Jets).

–Field Level Media

Nov 22, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage (83) catches a pass against New Orleans Saints free safety Marcus Williams (43) during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Saints slap franchise tag on S Marcus Williams

Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings kicker Dan Bailey (5) warms up before their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The New Orleans Saints hit starting free safety Marcus Williams with the franchise tag, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

The Saints took Williams in the second round of the 2017 draft. The 24-year-old made $1.3 million last season, the final year of his rookie contract. Williams will make a projected $10.5 million on the tag this season.

Williams has started all 60 games he’s played in for the Saints, including 14 last season. He made 59 tackles with three interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2020. He has 13 career INTs.

The 6-foot-1 Williams played at Utah.

–Field Level Media

Sep 27, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens (4) throws a pass while pressured by New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (99) during the first quarter of a NFL football game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Giants place franchise tag on DL Leonard Williams

The New York Giants placed the franchise tag on defensive lineman Leonard Williams for the second straight season, multiple outlets reported before Tuesday’s deadline.

Williams, 26, led the team with a career-high 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits in 2020.

He earned $16.126 million on the franchise tag last season. A second tag for 2021 would cost 120 percent of last year’s number, or $19.351 million.

The parties are said to be working toward a long-term deal, with the franchise tag providing more time to negotiate this offseason without Williams becoming a free agent.

ESPN reported that Williams has an unresolved grievance with the NFL Players Association about whether he should be listed as a defensive end or tackle. If it’s the former, his 2020 franchise tag value should have been $17.8 million and his second tag in 2021 would be worth $21.4 million.

Williams played in all 16 games (12 starts) in his first full season with the Giants, contributing 57 tackles (14 for loss) with one fumble recovery.

Drafted No. 6 overall in 2015 by the New York Jets, Williams made the Pro Bowl in 2016 and was traded to the Giants on Oct. 29, 2019 for a 2020 third-round pick and a conditional 2021 fifth-rounder.

He has 29 career sacks and 131 quarterback hits in 95 games (87 starts).

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson (12) makes a catch against Detroit Lions strong safety Duron Harmon (26) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bears place franchise tag on WR Allen Robinson

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) drops back to pass against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of an AFC Divisional Round game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are placing the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson, ESPN reported on Tuesday.

Robinson will be paid $17.88 million under the tag this season. He made a base salary of $10.9 million in 2020 with bonuses upping the total to $13 million, per Spotrac.

Robinson, 27, reportedly was against the team using the franchise tag on him, with the Chicago Sun-Times reporting that he’s seeking a long-term extension with a salary of $20 million or more per season. The Bears and Robinson have until July 15 to reach a long-term contract extension, or he will play out the 2021 season under the franchise tag.

Robinson recorded a career-high 102 catches and a team-best 1,250 receiving yards in 2020. His six touchdown receptions trailed only tight end Jimmy Graham (eight) for the club lead.

Robinson has 457 catches for 5,999 yards and 39 touchdowns in 88 career games with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Bears. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 with the Jaguars.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA;  Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Cam Robinson (74) protects the line from the rushing Indianapolis Colts defensive end Justin Houston (50) during the second half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Jaguars to place franchise tag on OT Cam Robinson

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars will place the franchise tag on offensive tackle Cam Robinson, NFL Network reported on Tuesday.

The reported move appears to be a sound one, considering the Jaguars are expected to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The franchise tag for offensive tackles is earmarked at approximately $13.6 million. Robinson made $1,422,022 last season, per Spotrac.

Robinson, 25, started 16 games last season and all 47 games in which he has played since the Jaguars selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Feb 7, 2021; Tampa, FL, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (14) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Tagged: WR Chris Godwin gets franchise marker

Jan 3, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) reacts in the third quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The Rams defeated the Cardinals 18-7. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin was informed he’ll be given the franchise tag, keeping him from free agency and marking his return to the Super Bowl champions, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Head coach Bruce Arians hinted the move could be coming in February while finger-counting the number of marquee players the team stands to lose in free agency. The move could push linebacker Lavonte David and pass rusher Shaq Barrett, who was tagged by the Buccaneers last March, into free agency.

Godwin anticipated the move and told the Pat McAfee Show last month, “I want to be here. … The goal obviously is to get paid, right? But I’m not stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a situation where I’m going to be miserable for some years to come just for a couple extra dollars.”

Using the franchise tag to retain Godwin comes at a cost of around $16 million for the 2021 season and further tightens the salary cap for the Bucs.

One possible method of relief is a restructured contract for quarterback Tom Brady, who has one year left on the two-year deal he struck with the team in March 2020. Converting his incentives — likely to be earned — and base salary into a bonus could bring a savings of more than $15 million against the 2021 cap, per reports.

Godwin turned 25 in February and pairs with Mike Evans to form one of the top wide receiver duos in the NFL. He had 65 catches for 840 yards in 2020 despite dealing with leg, finger and elbow injuries.

–Field Level Media

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

Are players better off under the new franchise tag methodology?

NFL teams can retain the rights to one of its impending free agents with the use of a non-exclusive or an exclusive franchise tag during a two week window beginning on February 16. The designation period ends on March 2.
The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) changed how non-exclusive franchise tags are determined. Since its inception in 1993, a franchise tag number had been an average of the five largest salaries in the prior year at a player’s position or 120% of the prior year’s salary of the player, whichever was greater. For franchise tag purposes, salary means a player’s salary cap number, excluding workout bonuses.
The 120 percent and five largest salaries provisions remain intact but the formula component is now calculated over a five year period that’s tied to a percentage of the overall salary cap. More specifically, the number for each position is determined by taking the sum of the non-exclusive franchise tags for the previous five seasons and dividing by the sum of the salary caps for the previous five seasons (an average of the 2009 and 2011 salary caps are used for the uncapped 2010 season in the calculations). The resulting percentage is then multiplied by the actual salary cap for the upcoming league year.
This non-exclusive tag allows the player to negotiate with other NFL teams but if he signs an offer sheet with another club, his team has five days to match the offer. If the offer is not matched, his team will receive two first round picks as compensation from the signing team.
Under the exclusive franchise tag, a player will receive a one year offer from his team that is the greater of the average of the top five salaries at his position once the restricted free agent signing period of the current year has ended (April 24 for 2015) or 120 percent of his prior year’s salary. A player cannot negotiate with other teams with the exclusive franchise tag.
Teams also have the option to use a transition tag instead of a franchise tag. The transition tag operates similarly to the non-exclusive franchise tag, except it is based on the average of the top ten salaries at a player’s position. Teams have the same matching rights as with franchise tags but do not receive any draft choice compensation. The transition tag had essentially become obsolete. It made a comeback last year with the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers becoming the first teams to use it since 2008.
It’s almost a certainty that Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston and Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will be franchised if they don’t sign new deals with their respective clubs before the end of the designation period. The Detroit Lions haven’t ruled out franchising defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. His franchise tag number is $26.87 million, which is based off of 120 percent of his 2014 cap number. Since Suh’s number is same whether it’s the exclusive or non-exclusive version, the Lions would probably opt for the exclusive version to prevent him from negotiating with other teams. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, New England Patriots safety Devin McCourty and New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul are other non-exclusive franchise tag possibilities.
The franchise tenders can’t be finalized until the 2015 salary cap is set in late February or early March. NFL teams were informed at a league meeting on December 9 that the 2015 salary cap is preliminarily projected to be between $138.6 million and $141.8 million. The actual salary cap in 2014 was 5.3 percent higher than the preliminary projections this time last year. The expectation is for the salary cap to once again exceed initial projections.
CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason LaCanfora was the first to report the expected salary cap percentages each franchise tag last October. I have independently verified that his figures are correct. The chart below contains the non-exclusive franchise numbers if the 2015 salary cap is $142 million and their percentage of cap. For comparison purposes, I have also included what the franchise tenders would have been for 2015 under the old method of calculation.

2015 2015 2015 Projected vs. Old
Position Salary Cap % Projected Old Method % Difference
Cornerback 9.125% $12,958,000 $10,620,000 22%
Defensive End 10.339% $14,681,000 $13,177,000 11.4%
Defensive Tackle 7.812% $11,093,000 $14,943,000 -25.8%
Linebacker 9.209% $13,077,000 $10,967,000 19.2%
Offensive Line 9.034% $12,828,000 $11,174,000 14.8%
Punter/Kicker 2.88% $4,089,000 $3,850,000 6.2%
Quarterback 12.942% $18,378,000 $18,611,000 -1.3%
Running Back 7.643% $10,853,000 $9,483,000 14.4%
Safety 6.713% $9,532,000 $9,484,000 0.5%
Tight End 5.825% $8,272,000 $7,468,000 10.8%
Wide Receiver 8.949% $12,708,000 $14,147,000 -10.2%
Note: Projections assume 2015 salary cap is $142 million.

 
The NFLPA is gaining a small measure of vindication in 2015 for the criticism received for agreeing to change the calculation of the non-exclusive franchise designations. Franchise players are going to be better off with the new methodology than under old methodology for the first time since the change was implemented. The franchise tag numbers will be 3.67 percent higher collectively under the new formula with a $142 million 2015 salary cap.
A record twenty-one players were franchised in 2012, including six kickers and punters, in the first year of with the new method of calculation when there was almost a 20 percent drop in the franchise tags from 2011. The franchise numbers were approximately 18 percent higher collectively under the old formula in both 2012 and 2013. The difference dropped to 2.18 percent in 2014 because of the significant increase in the salary cap.
Defensive tackle, quarterback and wide receiver are the only positions that would be better off with the old method of calculation. The discrepancy in the defensive tackle number under the two methodologies is due to Suh and Gerald McCoy having the NFL’s largest cap numbers in 2014. McCoy’s cap number increased to over $21 million when he signed a six-year, $95.2 million contract extension (worth up to $98 million through incentives) last October to become the NFL’s highest paid interior defensive lineman.
There was greater year-to-year variance with franchise tag numbers with the system under the previous CBAs. For example, the wide receiver number would have gone from $11.826 million in 2013 to $9.731 million in 2014 to $14.147 million for 2015 with the old methodology. None of the franchise tags numbers at the eleven different positions have decreased in a year under the new method of calculation after the initial rollback in 2012.
The good thing for players is franchise tag numbers being higher under the new methodology than with the old methodology should continue as long as there is at least modest salary cap growth annually. Most players aren’t happy when given a franchise player designation because it hinders their ability to gain long term security. The tag is essentially a high salaried one-year “prove it” deal where players incur the risk of serious injury and poor performance again after already playing out their contracts. There may be fewer players dealing with franchise tags in the future because teams should become more judicious in using the designation as it gets more cost prohibitive.
Follow me on twitter: @corryjoel
Joel Corry is a former sports agent who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, a sports management firm that represents professional athletes and coaches. Prior to his tenure at Premier, Joel worked for Management Plus Enterprises, which represented Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ronnie Lott.