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Why the Broncos should/will use the exclusive franchise tag on Von Miller

Miguel Benzan
Miguel Benzan on Twitter
6 years ago at 5:29 pm ET
Posted Under: Free Agency

You may be wondering why I am blogging about a player that is not on the Patriots. I thought that it would be a good opportunity to talk about the exclusive franchise tag. It is my fervent hope that you will learn something about NFL free agency process from this blog post even thought it does not pertain to a Patriot player. While I doubt that the Patriots will use the franchise tag this year there is a good chance that they may do so in 2017 as Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Jabaal Sheard, and Logan Ryan will all become UFAs in March 2017 if not extended before then.

There are two types of franchise tags (the non-exclusive tag and the exclusive tag). The non-exclusive tag allows the tagged player to negotiate with all 32 teams in the NFL while under the exclusive franchise tag he can only negotiate with one team (the team that tagged him).

In 2011 with the new CBA the way the non-exclusive tag was calculated changed. Before 2011 the franchise tag was the larger of an average of the prior year’s 5 highest cap numbers at the player’s position or 120% of the player’s prior year cap number.

Example
In 2007 the Patriots placed the franchise tag on Asante Samuel. In 2006 the average of the 5 highest cap numbers at his position cornerback was $7,790,000. Note that workout bonuses and LTBE incentives are excluded.

Champ Bailey – $8,998,100
Chris McAlister – $8,407,082
Charles Woodson – $7,250,000
Nate Clements – $7,226,000
Quentin Jammer – $7,070,834

Samuel’s franchise tag in 2007 was $7,790,000. Total aside – 2007 was the last year that Tom Brady did not have the largest cap number on the Patriots.

Starting with the new CBA the franchise tag number for each position is calculated by taking the sum of the non-exclusive franchise tags as determined by the above methodology for the previous five seasons and dividing by the sum of the salary caps for the previous five seasons and then multiplying that percentage to the current League Cap. For the 2016 that means adding together the 5 highest cap numbers at a position for the 2011/2012/2013/2014/2015 seasons and then dividing that total by the total of the League Cap for the same 5 seasons.

2011 – 120,000,000
2012 – 120,600,000
2013 – 123,000,000
2014 – 133,000,000
2015 – 143,280,000
====================
Total – $639,880,000

Luckily for us Joel Corry @Corryjoel has already done the legwork for determining the Cap Percentage to be used for the 2016 season.

POSITION PERCENTAGE
Cornerback 8.985%
Defensive End 10.061%
Defensive Tackle 8.68%
Linebacker 9.176%
Offensive Line 8.882%
Punter/Kicker 2.944%
Quarterback 12.823%
Running Back 7.708%
Safety 6.959%
Tight End 5.879%
Wide Receiver 9.434%

If the 2016 League Cap is $154 million, multiply it by the above percentage to determine the tag number. Using the linebacker position as an example, 154,000,000 times *.09176 and then round the result to the nearest thousandth – $14,131,000.

154,000,000 – $14,131,000
155,000,000 – $14,223,000
156,000,000 – $14,315,000
157,000,000 – $14,406,000
158,000,000 – $14,498,000
159,000,000 – $14,590,000
160,000,000 – $14,682,000

Now that we know how the non-exclusive franchise tag number is determined, let’s see at how the exclusive franchise tag number is calculated. It is the higher of the non-exclusive franchise tag number or the average of the 5 highest cap numbers at his position at the end of the Restricted Free Agent tender offer. The end of the Restricted Free Agent tender period is usually the Friday before the NFL draft. Therefore, in 2016 the Restricted Free Agent tender offer period ends at 4PM, April 22nd.

As of now the 5 largest 2016 cap hits for a linebacker are

Justin Houston – $19,000,000
Lawrence Timmons – $15,131,250
Clay Matthews – $13,250,000
Jerod Mayo – $11,150,000
Julius Peppers – $10,000,000

Average of $13,706,250.

Once again, workout bonuses are not included in calculating this average which is why Mayo’s listed cap hit is $250,000 less than his actual cap number of $11.4 million.

Since $14,131,000 is higher than $13,706,250 using the exclusive franchise tag will not take up more cap space than using the non-exclusive tag. Therefore, the Broncos might as well as use it and prevent Von Miller from talking to another team in the NFL.

There is very little chance that the average will become higher than $14,131,000 between now and April 22. There is a better chance that it will go even lower. It is very likely that Mayo’s 4 million option will not be picked up by the New England Patriots which would lower the average. If Timmons is cut or extended by the Steelers the average would be lowered as his cap number would be replaced by a much smaller number. If Peppers is cut by the Green Bay Packers the average would be lowered as his cap number would be replaced by a much smaller number.

February 20 update

As of Jerod Mayo’s unofficial retirement the 5 largest 2016 cap hits for a linebacker are

Justin Houston – $19,000,000
Lawrence Timmons – $15,131,250
Clay Matthews – $13,250,000
Lavonte David – $10,000,000
Julius Peppers – $10,000,000

Average of $13,476,250. Since $14,131,000 is higher than $13,476,250 using the exclusive franchise tag will not take up more cap space than using the non-exclusive tag. Therefore, the Broncos might as well as use it and prevent Von Miller from talking to another team in the NFL.

Hopefully, I have made a convincing case why the Broncos should use the exclusive franchise tag on Von Miller. Thank you for your time.

You can follow me on Twitter at @patscap.

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Posted Under: Free Agency

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