Tuesday marks the beginning of a two-week period for clubs to designate franchise or transition players among their pending free agents. Front offices have until 4 p.m. ET on March 5 to do so before free agency opens on March 13, the day the 2019 league year officially begins.
Last season, five players were given the franchise tag: safety Lamarcus Joyner (Rams), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (Dolphins, who then traded him to the Browns), running back Le'Veon Bell (Steelers), and defensive ends Demarcus Lawrence (Cowboys) and Ezekiel Ansah (Lions). The Bears used the transition tag on cornerback Kyle Fuller.
Since the system's inception in 1993, the New York Giants have used the tags eight times – five franchise and three transition – on seven players.
- OT Jumbo Elliott (franchise) in 1993
- LB Carl Banks (transition) in 1993
- TE Howard Cross (transition) in 1994
- RB Rodney Hampton (transition) in 1996
- RB Brandon Jacobs (franchise) in 2009
- P Steve Weatherford (franchise) in 2012
- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (franchise) in 2015 and 2017
There are three different tags that clubs may use: exclusive, non-exclusive, and transition.
An "exclusive" franchise player – not free to sign with another club – is offered the greater of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position or the amount of the Required Tender for a "non-exclusive" franchise player, as explained below.
A "non-exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract of an amount no less than a figure calculated using the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the previous year (and other variables), or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater.
A "transition tag" is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may receive from another team.
Here are other important dates coming up on the NFL calendar:
- Feb. 26-March 4: NFL Scouting Combine
- March 5: Deadline for clubs to designate Franchise or Transition Players.
- March 11-13: Clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into contract negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2018 player contracts at 4 p.m., New York time, on March 13.
- March 13: The 2019 league year and free agency period begin at 4 p.m., New York time. All clubs must be under the 2019 Salary Cap.
- March 24-27: Annual League Meeting
- April 15: Clubs with returning head coaches may begin offseason workout programs
- April 25-27: 2019 NFL Draft
- May 20-22: Spring League Meeting
- June 3: Deadline for prior club to send "June 1 Tender" to its unsigned Restricted Free Agents who received a qualifying offer for a right of first refusal only in order for such player to be subject to the CBA's "June 15 Tender" provision.
- July 15: Deadline for any club that designated a Franchise Player to sign such player to a multiyear contract or extension. After this date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for the 2019 season, and such contract cannot be extended until after the club's last regular season game.
- Mid-July: Clubs are permitted to open preseason training camp for rookies and first-year players beginning seven days prior to the club's earliest permissible mandatory reporting date for veteran players.
- Aug. 1: Hall of Fame Game
- Aug. 31: Clubs must reduce rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the Active/Inactive List.
- Sept. 1: Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at noon, New York time. Clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players.
- Sept. 5, 8-9: Regular Season Week 1