Starting last Tuesday (February 25th), 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 10th 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 18th.
The Cleveland Browns have seven unrestricted free agents this year. None of those free agents are likely to be under consideration for the tag. 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 Drew Stanton - $26.90 million
- WR Rashard Higgins - $18.49 million
- LT Greg Robinson - $16.10 million
- MLB Joe Schobert - $16.27 million
- S Damarious Randall - $12.74 million
- S Juston Burris - $12.74 million
- S Eric Murray - $12.74 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 projections by Over the Cap. The Browns could also attempt to use the transition tag on a player, which is about $2 million less than the transition tag.
Players to Consider
It is always fun to chuckle at some of the players like Drew Stanton, and imagine the Browns slapping a $27 million franchise tag on him. We’ll cross that bridge (maybe) when Baker Mayfield’s contract is up, but not now. The same goes for five most of the other players who are set to hit the free agent market.
Only Joe Schobert and Damarious Randall are worth considering the tag for. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, the Browns will not re-sign Schobert because he wants at least $10 million per year, and the club doesn’t want to pay him that. They aren’t going to pay him $16+ million then, even if it’s just for one season. The transition tag of $14.08 million for Schobert is a little better, but still above what Cleveland wants on the cap this year.
Randall is the player who is moderately more interesting, and more so at the transition tag value of $10.8 million. It would be a normal bump from his 2019 salary, and probably around the per-year range he’d be hoping to seek in a contract (but I don’t think he’ll get anywhere near that). I don’t expect the Browns to even debate this for very long, though — they won’t be using the franchise or the transition tag on anyone this year.