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Das Franchise-Tag der NFL ist unamerikanisch

von NFI Redaktion

What happens every time an NFL quarterback resets the QB market? A relatively mediocre quarterback gets overpaid. The reason Daniel Jones signed a four-year, $160 million contract after a good season instead of being tagged is because Joe Burrow got enough money, making Jones‘ deal relatively understandable.

This is what happens with wide receivers like Justin Jefferson who are expected to receive $30 million per year. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase said he would like to wait until his former LSU teammate gets paid to negotiate his next deal, which makes sense because that’s how business works in America. See what your colleagues are worth and measure your worth accordingly.

Now, if the best players at their positions don’t get paid their worth, how will the market evolve for them? The talk around franchise tagging is that the NFLPA agreed to it to gain allowances in other areas, especially for players who aren’t in the top percentile of the NFL.

But by delaying or avoiding payments to the best safeties, cornerbacks, offensive linemen, running backs, etc., there are fewer examples that can be used as leverage in negotiations. Take Antoine Winfield Jr., for example. He was an All-Pro in 2023, leading the league with 122 tackles, six sacks, six tackles for loss, three interceptions, and six forced fumbles. The Bucs tagged him to potentially set a new benchmark for safeties. If he’s paid as he should be, other safeties in the NFL can argue, „Hey, I’m not Antoine Winfield Jr., but I deliver 75% of the production he does, so I deserve 75% of what he earns and 75% of the years in his contract.“

Four of the nine players tagged this week were cornerbacks and safeties. That’s four missed opportunities to boost the market for the next generation of free agents.

Franchise tagging also allows front offices to mock players seeking multi-year contracts, which is dangerous as NFL groupthink often leads to collusion. Using a one-year rental salary as a benchmark is difficult because these players only earn so much due to it being a risk-free one-year deal that doesn’t reflect the actual market in any way.

All these GMs act like they’re Albert Einstein because the league has tilted the scales in their favor. Let’s see how they handle guaranteed contracts and a little responsibility, like the fools in MLB and the NBA.

The NFL salary cap increased by $30 million this offseason, yet players are still being shortchanged so that owners can escape multi-year deals. Of the top 25 touchdown scorers in 2023, 13 were running backs. Christian McCaffrey is objectively one of the best players in the game, period.

Where would you rank Danny Dimes or Kirk Cousins? Salary caps and tides are not the same, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the extra monopoly money goes directly to receivers, edge rushers, and quarterbacks before increasing the salaries for other positions.

The NFL will cling to the franchise tag as long as possible to prevent „less important“ position groups from commanding exorbitant contracts necessary to raise the benchmark for their peers. So, if someone tries to justify the franchise tag by saying, „Well, it was agreed upon in the CBA…,“ just point their lips in the direction of Roger Goodell’s behind.

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