The Kansas City Chiefs can use the franchise tag as of 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) this afternoon. There is a two-week window where teams can use the franchise tag. That window begins this afternoon and continues through the afternoon of March 1. I wouldn't expect any movement from the Chiefs until closer to March 1.
Which Chief will be tagged? It depends on who gets a long-term deal before then and who doesn't. I continue to argue that CB Sean Smith makes sense for the tag (if the Chiefs use it at all). Most others are saying S Eric Berry because a safety is cheaper to tag than a corner and Berry is an all-time Chief who I can't imagine playing elsewhere. I'm just hoping that the Chiefs lock him up before the franchise tag deadline, which means the Chiefs can use it on someone else if they want. DL Jaye Howard is also a candidate for the tag because the Chiefs have a big hole along the line if both he and Mike DeVito leave in free agency.
How much will the franchise tag cost? The final numbers for the franchise tag are not public (that I know of) but ESPN has posted some estimates. CB Sean Smith would cost $14.8M, DE Jaye Howard would cost $13.4 million and S Eric Berry would cost $10.7 million. These are one-year contracts. The tag for a linebacker is $14.1 million which likely rules out Derrick Johnson, who is also a free agent. The same goes for Jeff Allen and the offensive lineman tag at $13.7 million.
What happens after the franchise tag is given? It depends on how the player reacts. If the Chiefs tag Berry, for example, then he could immediately sign the tag and be guaranteed that money for next season or he could not sign it, skip offseason workouts and show up sometime before the season. Remember that Houston skipped most of the offseason workouts.
Do we have any franchise tag deadlines? There are two to be aware of. First, the March 1 deadline for a team to use the tag. Second, a July 15 deadline for the player and team to strike an agreement on a long-term deal. If they don't agree to a long-term deal by then, the player will have to play that season under the franchise tag and they'll start again after the season.
What happens if the player isn't happy about the tag? Let's use Sean Smith as an example. I would guess that Smith doesn't want the franchise tag. You and I see it's a one-year, $14.8 million contract for cornerbacks and think Smith is just selfish because that's a shitload of money. But on the open market, Smith could earn a lot more in guaranteed money. He wants that five-year deal with a big bonus and guarantee, not the one-year contract.
A brief history of the Chiefs use of the franchise tag:
2015: Justin Houston
2013: Branden Albert
2012: Dwayne Bowe
2011: Tamba Hali
2008: Jared Allen
2002: Tony Gonzalez
2000: Will Shields
1998: Dan Williams
1993: Neil Smith