Starting on Tuesday and ending on March 1, teams can use the franchise tag, which allows them to retain the rights to a player who is scheduled for free agency. The Kansas City Chiefs this year have a few candidates for the franchise tag and now we have some projected costs for using those tags.
ESPN's franchise tag article includes estimated costs of the franchise tags for each position. A long-term deal is often cheaper in the first year because you can spread the cap hit out over multiple years on a long-term contract. Teams often prefer the long-term deals because of that flexibility. At some point, however, you'll be paying for it on the cap. With franchise tags, you're paying for all of it that year. There's no moving the money around.
Let's take a look at a few of them for players that might interest the Chiefs (and keeping in mind they don't have to use it).
CB Sean Smith: $14.8M
If the Chiefs get the Eric Berry deal done, I would really think about this one long and hard. I'm sure Smith, who is looking to cash in during free agency, wouldn't like the tag. However, the Chiefs have to do what's best for the team and right now they need a cornerback next season. Phillip Gaines is the likely replacement for Smith and Gaines ended his second season on IR after an ACL tear. That's not to even mention the Chiefs still needing a nickel corner (if that's not Gaines). The cost is a lot but the benefit is quite a bit, too.
DL Jaye Howard: $13.4M
Like Smith, I would strongly consider tagging Howard if the opportunity is there because the Chiefs have no clear replacement for him. They have some younger guys (Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Nick Williams) while Mike DeVito is hitting free agency. I would probably put a priority on another corner, like Smith, over Howard. But it's close.
S Eric Berry: $10.7M
Here's to hoping the Chiefs get a deal with Berry done because if they don't I think he's first in line for the tag. Completing a long-term deal with Berry in the next few weeks would give the Chiefs the option of using the franchise tag on someone else.