NFL teams have two weeks to apply the franchise and transition tag. The window opened on Monday and closes on March 2, giving teams a tool designed to prevent valued assets from bolting in free agency.
The tags were used more frequently in years past, but the extreme cost of a franchise tag especially has made such moves unpopular. Just four players received the franchise tag last season.
There could be a similar number of teams in 2015 willing to offer a player a giant one-year deal to essentially secure his services.
Don’t expect the Raiders to be in that group. They don’t have anyone worthy of such designation. There are seven Raiders set to become unrestricted free agents, and just a few starters among them.
Center Stefen Wisniewski is the biggest name in that group, and the Raiders won’t consider a franchise tag number expected to be just north of $12 million for an offensive lineman.
There’s been little progress between Wisniewski and the Raiders to this point. There’s a value discrepancy between the camps, which might get ironed out in the open market. It could also result in Wisniewski leaving town.
While the Raiders aren’t expected to apply the franchise or transition tag, those tools could have an impact on their offseason business. It could take some unrestricted free agents off the market and drive up cost for those remaining.
Dallas’ Dez Bryant and Denver’s Demaryius Thomas are candidates to receive a tag, and taking them off the market could impact the competition and cost for a player like Green Bay’s Randall Cobb, who would fill a vital need in Oakland.
Tags could influence the market on defensive linemen, another area of immediate need for the Silver and Black.
The Raiders will certainly monitor tag applications across the NFL and evaluate how they impact the offseason search for talent.
General manager Reggie McKenzie last used the franchise tag on safety Tyvon Branch in 2012, an application that was prelude to the signing of a long-term contract. The team also tagged linebacker Kamerion Wimbley in 2011, before McKenzie came on board.
You’ll hear a bit about tags over the next two weeks. Here’s a refresher course on what each tag means:
Exclusive franchise tag: A team has complete negotiation rights with a player. They can try to work out a long-term deal but, if one can’t be reached, the player is guaranteed a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at his position.
Non-exclusive franchise tag: This is the tag used most often. Other teams can negotiate with the tagged player, but the original team can match any offer given. If that player leaves, the original team gets two first-round picks in exchange. If a longer-term deal can’t be reached, the player receives the average of the top 5 salaries at his position over a five-year period.
Transition tag: Other teams can negotiate with the tagged player, but the original team has a right to match any offer. If they choose not to match, they receive no compensation for the player leaving. If no long-term deal can be reached, the player receives a one-year deal worth an average of the top 10 salaries at his position.