NFL Franchise Tag 2020: How Does It Work, Which Players Could Be Tagged?

Free agency in the NFL does not begin until next month, but from the franchise-tag window opened on Thursday.

The window closes on March 12 and comes with a very significant change.

Normally teams can use either the franchise tag or the transition tag—more on which later—in one offseason but not both.

Under the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), this year is an exception which allows teams to use both tags.

With that mind, here's a breakdown of what you need to know about one of the crucial parts of the moving machine that is the NFL free agency.

What is the franchise tag?

The franchise tag allow teams to restrict a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent movement in exchange for a predetermined one-year salary, giving both parties another 12 months to agree on a contract extension.

The salary for each position is amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater.

There are two types of franchise tags—the "exclusive rights" tag and the "non-exclusive rights". Any players under the former is bound to his team and their agents can't open negotiations with other teams until the next offseason.

The latter, meanwhile, allows players to sign an offer sheet with another franchise, but gives their club the right to match the offer.

If the team declines, it will receive two first-round draft picks from the franchise the player will join.

A franchise tag, however, does not guarantee a new contract. According to ESPN, only 50 percent of the 44 players who have been franchise-tagged then signed multi-year extensions with their teams.

What is the transition tag?

The transition tag, meanwhile, is also applied to unrestricted free agents and guarantees the teams using them right of first refusal—which has to be exercised within seven days—to match any offer the player can receive from another team.

The salary is determined by taking the average of the top 10 players at each position during the past five years.

Any notable players that could be tagged?

Plenty. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is arguably the most high-profile player who could be franchise tagged this offseason.

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers counterpart Jameis Winston could also be tagged, as could defensive tackle Chris Jones, who won Super Bowl LIV with the Kansas City Chiefs earlier this month.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue are also eligible, as are Los Angeles Rams linebacker Dante Fowler and his Pittsburgh Steelers colleague Bud Dupree.

Will the proposed new CBA have an impact?

That's anyone's guess. The proposed new CBA stipulates a return to the original rule of using one tag per season.

While the owners have approved the new deal, the players are yet to ratify it. Should they do that before March 12, teams will not be allowed to using both tags this offseason.

The NFL has said it would "deal with that at the appropriate time" when asked what would happen to teams that may use both tags before the CBA is approved.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates in the third quarter against the Washington Redskins in the game at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboys could use the franchise tag on Prescott this month. Tom Pennington/Getty