2021 NFL franchise tag tracker: Chris Godwin, Marcus Maye, Brandon Scherff among players tagged

The deadline for NFL teams to place the franchise or transition tags on prospective free agents is approaching, and clubs around the league have some decisions to make.

March 9 is the final day that teams can start place the franchise or transition tag tenders on players. Teams can still work out a long-term deal with the tagged players through mid-July. If an extension isn’t worked out by then, the player will play the 2021 season under the one-year tender.

Clubs have three different options when deciding to tag a player: 1) Non-exclusive franchise tag; 2) Exclusive franchise tag; 3) Transition tag.

  • Non-exclusive franchise tag: This is the most commonly used tag. Colloquially, when most refer to the “franchise tag,” they are generally talking about the non-exclusive version. This is a one-year tender of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of his previous salary, whichever is greater. The player can negotiate with other teams. The player’s current team has the right to match any offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation if he signs with another organization.
  • Exclusive franchise tag: A one-year tender offer of the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position for the current year, or 120 percent of his previous salary, whichever is greater. The player cannot negotiate with another team. The rise in pay scale (current average salary versus averaging of the previous five years) means only a select few get this tag. Usually, players for whom teams would gladly give up two first-round picks receive this version of the tag — generally, quarterbacks like Dak Prescott last season get the exclusive.
  • Transition tag: The transition designation is a one-year tender offer for the average of the top 10 salaries at the position — as opposed to top five for the franchise tag. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player might receive from another club. The tagging team is awarded no compensation if it chooses not to match a deal. The transition tag is generally a placeholder giving the club the ability to match any contract the player negotiations with another team.

The following players have been tagged or are expected to be tagged before the league’s 4 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday, March 9. All salary projections are according to Over The Cap.

  • Chris Godwin, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the Super Bowl champions are placing the tag on Godwin. The Pro Bowl receiver caught 65 passes for 840 yards and seven scores during the 2020 regular season and racked up 16 catches for 232 yards and a score in the postseason en route to a Lombardi Trophy. Godwin is slated to make $15.808 million on the tag in 2021.
  • Marcus Maye, S, New York Jets: New York is placing the franchise tag on Maye, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Jets general manager Joe Douglas has expressed a desire to get a long-term deal done with the Pro Bowl safety, but for now, Maye will earn around $10.496 million on the tag in 2021.
  • Taylor Moton, T, Carolina Panthers: Rapoport reported that Carolina is expected to place the franchise tag on Moton. The 26-year-old tackle has started every game for Carolina over the last three seasons. Moton is expected to make $13.602 million on the tag.
  • Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears: Rapoport reported that Chicago is using the franchise tag on the star wide receiver. The 27-year-old Robinson logged a career-high 102 catches for 1,250 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. Rapoport added the move wasn’t a surprise, as the Bears were never letting him go.
  • Cam Robinson, T, Jacksonville Jaguars: A surprise candidate, Robinson has received the franchise tag from Jacksonville, Rapoport and Pelissero reported. A former second-round pick, Robinson started all 16 games for the Jags last season. He is slated to make $13.602 million in 2021.
  • Brandon Scherff, G, Washington Football Team: Scherff was franchise tagged by Washington for the second straight year. Scherff, 29, and the team are working toward a long-term deal. In 2020, Scherff earned $15.03 million playing on the tag and will command north of $18 million on the tag in 2021.
  • Justin Simmons, FS, Denver Broncos: Denver announced that it is placing the franchise tag on Simmons for the second consecutive season. The two sides are working toward a long-term deal, however, with Broncos GM George Paton calling Simmons’ tag a “procedural move.” If Simmons and the Broncos don’t agree on an extension, the safety could earn around $13.7 million in 2021.
  • Leonard Williams, DL, New York Giants: Rapoport reported that New York is expected to place the franchise tag on Williams for the second straight season. The Giants DL is coming off a career-best 11.5-sack season and is working with the team on a long-term deal. After earning $16.126 million on last year’s tender, Williams is due $19.351 million in 2021.

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