Franchise tags numbers decreased by nearly nine percent across the board with the salary cap dropping from $198.2 million in 2020 to $182.5 million this year, as league revenues declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Collectively, the franchise tag numbers were on par with 2017 levels. The numbers are going to bounce back in big way with the salary cap projected to be at the $208.2 million ceiling that the NFL and NFLPA agreed to in May.

A look at how franchise tags work is below. The projected 2022 franchise numbers and an examination of the best candidates to receive the designations next year follows.

Franchise tags logistics

NFL teams can retain the rights to one of their impending free agents in 2022 with the use of a non-exclusive or an exclusive franchise tag during a 15 day period from Feb. 22 to March 8.

How franchise tenders are calculated is misunderstood. Prior to the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, non-exclusive franchise tags 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 and most other performance bonuses.

The 120% and five largest salaries provisions have remained 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 as determined by the original methodology for the previous five seasons and dividing by the sum of the actual NFL salary cap amount for the previous five seasons. The resulting percentage, which is known as the Cap Percentage Average in the CBA, is then multiplied by the actual salary cap for the upcoming league year.

This non-exclusive tag allows a…



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