NFL teams can begin placing the franchise tag on prospective free agents on Tuesday. The tag window, which extends until 4 p.m. ET on March 1, appears likely to pass without the New York Giants using it to keep any of their players off the free agent market.
The Giants, of course, used the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul a year ago. Expectations are that they will not do so again. Nor has any indication been given that they would use the tag on defensive end Robert Ayers or cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Franchise tag values are formulated by averaging the top five salaries at a player's position or determine 120 percent of the value of a player's previous salary, whichever is greater. WE do not know the exact franchise tag values for each position yet because the salary cap, which also factors into the tag value, has yet to be determined. Based on a 2016 salary cap estimate of $154 million, the franchise tag value for defensive ends is projected to be $15.5 million.
For the Giants, $15.5 million would be more than 25 percent of the roughly $58 million in salary cap space they are reported to have under that $154 million. Currently, the only defensive ends with annual salaries above $15.5 million are J.J. Watt ($16.667M) and Mario Williams ($16M). With all of the questions surrounding Pierre-Paul's future effectiveness due to his permanently damaged hand, $15.5 million seems like far too much to spend.
What about cornerback? The Giants will, obviously, have a significant hole to fill if Amukamara leaves via free agency. The projected tag for cornerbacks is $!4.8 million, which would actually make Amukamara the highest-paid corner in the league based on average annual value. Does anyone truly believe Amukamara is worth that kind of money?