The offseason is underway for the Kansas City Chiefs — and the rest of the NFL’s teams.
Tuesday marks the first day teams may apply a franchise tag on impending unrestricted free agents, tying them to the team for the coming season. The franchise tag window runs from Tuesday, February 22, through Tuesday, March 8.
There are two types of franchise tags (non-exclusive and exclusive) — and also a transition tag. We described all three in detail back in 2020.
Under a non-exclusive franchise tag (the most commonly used tag), the player’s salary is the greater of 120% of their current wage or the average salary cap percentage of the top five players at their position over the previous five seasons; this percentage is then applied to the current salary cap to determine their one-year compensation.
Under a non-exclusive franchise tag, the team could potentially net two first-round draft picks if the tagged player moves on to another team. Few NFL general managers would have a problem with getting that return for a player they’re having difficulty signing to a new contract.
But for an exclusive franchise tag, it is based on the greater of 120% of their current salary or the top five salaries at the position in mid-April of the current year — after free agency has been underway for a month. So the one-year compensation for a player on an exclusive franchise tag will tend to be higher than that of a player on a non-exclusive franchise tag.
The transition tag works just like the non-exclusive franchise tag — but with two key differences:
One is that the calculation for the player’s one-year compensation is based on the top 10 players at their position (rather than the top five) during the last five years. This has the effect of making the one-year compensation a bit lower than for a player on a non-exclusive franchise tag.
The other is that should the player negotiate a new deal with another team, their current team still has the right to match it — but if it doesn’t, it receives no compensation from the new team.
For 2022, teams can use just one of these tags. Chiefs left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is thought to be the unrestricted free agent the team is most likely to be tag during this offseason — although it is still possible that Kansas City could sign him to a long-term contract.
Kansas City does have 22 other players due to become unrestricted free agents (as listed on our roster page), but no others are thought to be likely tag candidates this year.
Many times, the franchise tag is used as a placeholder as general managers and player reps buy more time to work out long-term contracts — as we have seen a number of times in Kansas City.
Chiefs franchise tag history
- 2020: Chris Jones
- 2019: Dee Ford
- 2016: Eric Berry
- 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