Starting yesterday (February 19th), teams were allowed to begin using the franchise or transition tag on players. Each team can only place the tag on one player, and the final day to use the tag is Tuesday, March 5th before 4:00 PM ET. After that, if the team can’t reach an agreement on a new contract with the player, they will hit the free agent market on March 13th.
The Cleveland Browns have nine unrestricted free agents this year. None of those free agents should be under consideration for the tag, with the exception of one in a very unlikely scenario. Nonetheless, it’s an annual tradition to still evaluate the use of the tag, so let’s take a look at how much it would cost to utilize the franchise tag on each free agent:
- QB Tyrod Taylor - $25.10 million
- WR Breshad Perriman - $16.95 million
- WR Rod Streater - $16.95 million
- OT Greg Robinson - $14.20 million
- OL Earl Watford - $14.20 million
- DT Carl Davis - $15.36 million
- LB Ray-Ray Armstrong - $15.59 million
- CB E.J. Gaines - $16.18 million
- CB Phillip Gaines - $16.18 million
The figures above represent a non-exclusive franchise tag (which I will refer to as the franchise tag from here on out), which is the most commonly used tag. If the Browns slap the franchise tag on a player, the player can still negotiate with other teams. If another team signs the player to an offer sheet, Cleveland would have five days to match the offer. If they do not match the offer, the Browns are compensated nicely with two first-round draft picks. That’s why teams rarely sign a player who is franchised -- nobody wants to part with two first-round picks.
The franchise tag figures are accurate under the projection of a $190 million cap, and the numbers are courtesy of Albert Breer of The MMQB.
Using the Tag on QB Tyrod Taylor
The only scenario in which I could see the Browns using the franchise tag is if they slap it on QB Tyrod Taylor for a hefty price of $25.10 million. It wouldn’t be because of Cleveland wanting to keep him as the backup to QB Baker Mayfield. Instead, it would be if a scenario emerged in which a certain team decided they want Taylor to be their starting quarterback in 2019, or for at least part of the year until their actual starter is able to return from injury. If they think that is the difference between making the playoffs and missing it, then a 1-year, $25 million deal might not be an option for them, and Cleveland could receive some form of draft pick compensation in return.
Again, I think it is highly unlikely that scenario were to unfold, but it could happen.
Side note: You may have noticed by absence recently. I just returned from a vacation in San Diego, and am full steam ahead for our free agency coverage now!