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Franchise tag 2018 primer: Would Giants use the tag on Justin Pugh?

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That would seem unlikely

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Justin Pugh
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday is the first day NFL teams can use the franchise or transition tags on players eligible for free agency. It seems unlikely that the New York Giants will use the tag on anyone.

Below, a look at all of the Giants who be free agents when the league season opens on March 14.

Giants’ 2018 Free Agents

PLAYER POSITION STATUS
PLAYER POSITION STATUS
Shane Vereen RB Signed with New Oreleans Saints
Justin Pugh LG Signed with Arizona Cardinals
Keenan Robinson LB Signed with Buffalo Bills
D.J. Fluker RG Signed with Seattle Seahawks
Jonathan Casillas LB UFA
Kerry Wynn DE Will re-sign with Giants
Weston Richburg C Signed with San Francisco 49ers
Geno Smith QB Signed with Los Angeles Chargers
Ross Cockrell CB Signed with Carolina Panthers
Orleans Darkwa RB UFA
John Greco RG Re-signed with Giants
Mark Herzlich LB Re-signed with Giants
Kelvin Sheppard LB UFA
Akeem Ayers LB UFA
Darryl Morris CB UFA
Jay Bromley 43DT Signed with New Orleans Saints
Tavarres King WR Signed with Minnesota Vikings
Deontae Skinner LB RFA (Waived by Giants)
Nat Berhe S Signed with Pittsburgh Steelers
Devon Kennard LB Signed with Detroit Lions
Robert Thomas 43DT ERFA (Re-signed with Giants)
Ryan O'Malley TE Re-signed with Giants
Brett Jones C RFA (Received second-round tender)
Jon Halapio LG Re-signed with Giants
Curtis Grant ILB ERFA (Not tendered)
Travis Rudolph WR ERFA (Received tender)

The only Giants, in my view, who deserve even passing consideration of being tagged would be offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg. The cost against the salary cap of using the tag on either player, though, would seem to be prohibitive.

The tag value for offensive linemen is projected by Over The Cap to be $14.538 million. Consider Pugh a guard and using the tag would make him the highest-paid guard in the league in 2018. Kevin Zeitler of the Cleveland Browns is set to count $12.4 million against the cap. The same with Richburg. Among centers, Travis Frederick of the Dallas Cowboys will count $13.235 million against the cap in 2018. Making a tag for Richburg even more unlikely is that center Brett Jones is a restricted free agent and can be kept for far less money.

See the tables below for projected position-by-position costs of using the franchise or transition tags, and for the salary cap values of restricted free agent tenders.

2018 Franchise Tag Projections

Position Franchise Tag Transition Tag
Position Franchise Tag Transition Tag
QB $23,090,000 $20,861,000
DE $17,521,000 $14,570,000
WR $16,228,000 $14,034,000
LB $15,469,000 $13,126,000
CB $14,877,000 $12,898,000
OL $14,538,000 $12,963,000
DT $14,529,000 $11,698,000
RB $11,687,000 $9,465,000
S $11,081,000 $9,497,000
TE $10,360,000 $8,576,000
ST $5,056,000 $4,604,000
* Projections from Over The Cap

2018 RFA Tender Projections

Type Amount
Type Amount
First Round $4,152,000
Second Round $2,916,000
Original Round $1,908,000
* Projections from Over The Cap

Types of NFL franchise tags

The following definitions are via SB Nation:

Exclusive

Just what the name implies. The player is locked into his team and cannot negotiate with any other team during the free agency period.

Non-exclusive

The player is allowed to negotiate with other teams, but if a competing team makes a free agent offer, the original team has the right to match it. If they don’t match the offer, they get two first-round picks in compensation. In other words, this is basically a convoluted trade scenario.

Transition tag

Similar to the non-exclusive tag, except the player gets paid an average of the top 10 salaries at his position, rather than top five. Transition-tagged players are free to negotiate with other teams, but unlike non-exclusive players, the original team gets no compensation if it fails to match an offer.