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Franchise tag explainer: What to know about Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and tag types

Teams can now begin designating franchise or transition players

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

As of Tuesday NFL teams can begin applying the franchise or transition tag to players. Don’t expect the New York Giants to rush to tag quarterback Daniel Jones or running back Saquon Barkley.

Jeff Darlington of ESPN reported early Tuesday that if the Giants decide to tag either player “it won’t be until closer to March 7 deadline to allow for time to negotiate with both.”

That absolutely makes sense.

The franchise tag for quarterbacks is $32.416 million, highest value for the tag at any position. The franchise tag for running backs is $10.091 million, second-lowest positional tag.

From a team’s perspective, the tag allows them to keep the player but forces a larger salary cap hit than the team would like. The full value of the tag is charged to the team’s cap. Per Over The Cap, the Giants currently have $46.993 million in cap space. Tagging Jones would drop the Giants’ available cap space to roughly $14.5 million without making any other moves to free more money.

For the Giants, tagging Barkley would obviously leave them more cap space. If they are unable to reach a deal with Jones before the March 7 tag deadline, however, it could open them to a scenario GM Joe Schoen has said he would not allow to happen — Jones reaching the open market.

“We’re happy Daniel’s going to be here,” Schoen said at his season-ending press conference. “We’re happy he’s going to be here.”

With the negotiation period for a new deal heating up, Jones has switched representation from CAA to Athletes First.

How that impacts the negotiations remains to be seen.

One thing we do know is that Schoen has been clear since the beginning of the offseason that Jones is the priority over Barkley.

As emphatic as he was that Jones would return in 2023, Schoen never guaranteed that Barkley would be back.

“There’s a business side to it,” Schoen said. “There’s rules that you need to operate under in terms of the salary cap. Saquon, he’s a good player. He’s a great teammate. I loved getting to know him this season.

“We would like to have Saquon back if it works out.”

Teams can only use one tag. If the Giants have to use their tag to ensure having Jones for 2023, that is going to complicate their efforts to get a deal done that keeps Barkley from entering the open market.

Types of tags

[Definitions from Article 10 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement]

Non-exclusive franchise tag

The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position ... the player shall be permitted to negotiate a Player Contract with any Club, except that Draft Choice Compensation of two first round draft selections shall be made with respect to such player in the event he signs with the New Club, and the Signing Period for such player shall be determined under Section 15 below.

Exclusive franchise tag

The Exclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Salaries in Player Contracts for that League Year as of the end of the Restricted Free Agent Signing Period that League Year, as set forth in Article 9, Section 2(e), for players at the position (within the categories set forth in Section 7(a) below) at which he participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, or (B) the amount of the Required Tender under Subsection (a)(i) above, whichever is greater.

[NOTE: Players who receive this tag cannot negotiate with other teams.]

Transition tag

In each League Year during the term of this Agreement, each Club shall be permitted to designate one player who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent or Restricted Free Agent as a Transition Player in lieu of designating a Franchise Player ... Any Club that designates a Transition Player shall receive the Rights of First Refusal specified in this Article notwithstanding the number of his Accrued Seasons. Any Transition Player shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with any Club during the period from the first day of the League Year following the expiration of his last player contract to July 22, and any Club shall be completely free to negotiate and sign a Player Contract with such player, without penalty or restriction, including, but not limited to, Draft Choice Compensation between Clubs of any kind, subject only to the Prior Club’s Right of First Refusal described in this Article.

[NOTE: There is no compensation if the player’s original team decides not to match an offer presented to the player by another team.]