With free agency in the NFL quickly approaching, many teams are starting the effort to re-sign their own impending free agents. In some cases when a long-term deal can’t be struck, the team will use the franchise tag as a one year deal, usually in hopes of extending the negotiating window for a longer contract.
The amount of money given in the franchise tag varies from position to position. Under the old CBA it was calculated by either the average of the five largest salaries in the league at that position or 120 percent of that player’s previous year’s salary—whichever number is greater. Now there’s a little more complicated math involved under the new CBA for non-exclusive rights tags, but that will keep the tag numbers a little smaller.
Obviously the New York Jets do not have a top-five talent at any position hitting free agency, but would keeping a player off the market be worth an increase in pay for someone? There would really only be three Jets to even consider for the tag: Brandon Moore, Dustin Keller, and LaRon Landry.
Let’s take a look at each of those players’ 2012 salary and see how much a franchise tag would pay them.
Moore had a base salary of $2.75 million and a cap hit of around $4.5 million for a productive season in 2012. The tag price for an offensive lineman will be around $9.3 million for the year. At 32 years old, there’s a very limited chance an increase in Moore’s production would match the increase in salary. Moore could be brought back on a much smaller salary than $9.3 million.
Landry only had a base salary of $700,000 in 2012 with a $2.6 million cap hit. The tag number for a safety should be around $6.5 million for the upcoming season. Landry under $1 million ended up being a bargain. Landry over $6 million would be paying the price of a Range Rover for a Honda Civic.
Keller is the only player who might make sense to be tagged. Keller made $3 million in salary with just under a $4 million cap hit. The tag number should be around $5.5 million. for 2013. If the Jets want to bring back Keller, why not slap the tag on him and have him play out a one-year deal to play for a multi-year deal after 2013. Keller only played in eight games last season, but is still on the right side of 30 years old. The pay increase is around what Keller could make on the open market and is reasonable to assume his healthy play can match that salary—especially for only one year.
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