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Explaining The Franchise Tag And Tenders

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Ka-ching! (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Ka-ching! (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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The following post was scheduled for noon today, but that was before Brent Grimes got the franchise tag. I post it because it's still useful information, though perhaps not as vital now. Hope you enjoy.

A reader asked me to succinctly explain the difference between these two terms, given that Brent Grimes is getting the tag. I will now do so.

The Franchise Tag

The franchise tag can only be used once per off-season, and on a single player. In essence, you're preventing a player from getting to free agency entirely, hopefully either keeping them for a year, negotiating a new deal or trading them. The price for doing so is high, however.

The first scenario happens most frequently. The Eagles have tendered DeSean Jackson a franchise tag, for example, and he'll probably sign it and collect $9.5 million this year. It works out for both sides, because Jackson desperately needs a year to rehabilitate his image and the Eagles need his playmaking ability at wide receiver.

The second scenario may play out with the Ravens and Ray Rice. The Ravens will almost certainly have to tag the star back to keep him from getting to the open market, but the offense also runs through him. Both sides have an interest in getting a deal done fast.

The third scenario is relatively rare, because of the exorbitant cost of the tag. If the Falcons tag Grimes, for example, trading him to a cornerback-needy team would be tough because of his $10 million cap hit. You likely won't see any franchised players traded this off-season.

There's also a non-exclusive version of the tag, which allows other teams to swoop in and sign the player away. Should they do so, two first-round picks are forfeit, so it basically never happens.

The biggest change to the tag under the new CBA? The contract is now based on an average of the highest salary from the past five years, which makes them slightly less expensive than they used to be. Slightly. So it's a little bit of a better option in the short-term.

The Tender

If teams are less than keen about the franchise tag, they can turn to a tender. Tenders have advantages and disadvantages you don't get with the tag.

Take the Jets and pass rusher Aaron Maybin, who went from total bust to useful pass rusher this last season. The Jets elected to give him a first-round tender this year, which will cost them about $2.75 million when all is said and done. A lot cheaper than the franchise tag, to be sure.

That's the small advantage. Here's the drawback. Maybin or any other player tagged with a tender is still welcome to negotiate with other teams. Any team that signs Maybin would have to surrender a first-round pick, which they won't do for this particular player, and the Jets would be free to match the offer sheet and keep him. But it can lead to a bidding war or losing a player you were really hoping you could keep.

Could the Falcons do this with Grimes? Yes, they could, and it would be interesting. The issue here is that a team could blow the Falcons out of the water with an offer that would essentially be cost-prohibitive. The Falcons would still get a first-round pick out of the deal, but there's no telling where in the round that would be. If no team picks him up, the Falcons still have Grimes with a (lower) tender and no long-term deal, which is hardly an ideal outcome.

So that's our Falcoholic seminar for the day. Thoughts on tags and tenders?