NFL teams have until 3:00pm central time today to assign the franchise or transition tag to pending free agents, assuring that those players won’t reach the open market next week as unrestricted free agents. Using an exclusive franchise tag on a player ensures that he can’t negotiate with any other suitors, while opting for the non-exclusive franchise tag or the transition tag limits the ability of that player to sign elsewhere, essentially making him a restricted free agent.
Our glossary entry on the subject goes into greater detail on how franchise and transition tags work, but for now, we’re primarily focused on today’s deadline, and determining which players will be tagged by their respective teams. So far, we’ve heard that the following teams are reportedly prepared to use the tag:
- Broncos: As expected, the Broncos will use their non-exclusive franchise tag on wideout Demaryius Thomas in advance of today’s deadline, assuming the two sides don’t unexpectedly reach a long-term deal at the last minute.
- Cowboys: Executive VP Stephen Jones informed Dez Bryant‘s camp over the weekend that Dallas intends to use its franchise tag on the star receiver today.
- Giants: Multiple reports since the franchise tag period opened last month have indicated that New York expects to franchise defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul if no long-term deal has been reached. The non-exclusive tag is expected to be used.
Thomas, Bryant, and Pierre-Paul were three players are identified as very viable candidates to be tagged when I looked into the issue last month. Here are a few more to keep an eye on today as the 3:00pm deadline nears:
- Randall Cobb, WR (Packers)
- Stephen Gostkowski, K (Patriots)
- Justin Houston, OLB (Chiefs)
- Jerry Hughes, DE (Bills)
- Jeremy Maclin, WR (Eagles)
- Devin McCourty, S (Patriots)
- Ndamukong Suh, DT (Lions)