Monday was the deadline for NFL teams to apply the franchise or transition tag to one impending free agent on their roster. In total, six players received tags – five of them were franchise tags and one of them was a transition tag. All five players who received franchise tags got the non-exclusive tag, meaning they are free to negotiate with other teams, but if they sign with another team, their current team gets the opportunity to match the contract offer and keep the player, or they can decline to match the offer and receive two first-round draft picks from the player’s new team. The player who received the transition tag is free to negotiate and sign with another team, but his current team will get the opportunity to keep the player by matching any contract the player receives. If his current team declines to match the offer, they will receive no compensation for losing the player.
There were also six big-name players who surprisingly were not tagged prior to Monday’s deadline, and will now be free to test the free agency market. They are Randall Cobb of the Green Bay Packers, Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots, Ndamukong Suh of the Detroit Lions, Jeremy Maclin of the Philadelphia Eagles, Jordan Cameron of the Cleveland Browns, and Jerry Hughes of the Buffalo Bills. All six players will likely receive huge paydays on the open market, with Suh having the potential to receive the largest contract in NFL history.
With that, here is a look at the six players who received tags before Monday’s deadline.
1. Justin Houston, outside linebacker, Kansas City Chiefs
- Franchise Tag Amount: $13.195 million
The Chiefs appear to have used the franchise tag on Houston to give themselves more time to work out a long-term extension with the NFL’s 2014 sacks leader. If a deal is not reached, it is believed that Houston will hold out and refuse to report to any team activities. Sources close to Houston and the Chiefs both believe the two sides will reach an agreement, but if they are unable to do so, Houston may choose to holdout until Week 10 of the 2015 season and play in the minimum number of games he needs to accrue another year of NFL service.
2. Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, Denver Broncos
- Franchise Tag Amount: $12.823 million
Everyone with knowledge of Thomas’s situation fully expects to see the two-time All-Pro wide receiver agree to a long-term extension with the Broncos before the July 15 deadline. Denver is likely waiting to finalize a new contract with quarterback Peyton Manning before moving on to Thomas’s extension.
3. Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end, New York Giants
- Franchise Tag Amount: $14.813 million
The Giants slapped their franchise tag on JPP in large part to keep the super-athletic defensive end off of the free agent market. They will continue to work on an extension up until the July 15 deadline, but the Giants are also comfortable in letting JPP play out the 2015 season on the franchise tag and re-visiting a possible extension next offseason.
4. Stephen Gostkowski, kicker, New England Patriots
- Franchise Tag Amount: $4.126 million
Gostkowski, if he plays the 2015 season on the franchise tag, will be earning 120% of his 2014 salary cap number. The Patriots will likely be trying to lock up Devin McCourty and Darrelle Revis before moving on to an extension for their nine-year veteran kicker. It’s highly unlikely that Gostkowski and the Patriots do not agree to a long-term extension before the July 15 deadline.
5. Dez Bryant, wide receiver, Dallas Cowboys
- Franchise Tag Amount: $12.823 million
Bryant has made it clear that he is unhappy about receiving the franchise tag from the Cowboys. While an extension is likely going to happen at some point, the Cowboys are reportedly concerned about giving a big-money deal to a player who has battled with immaturity issues both on and off the field.
It also appears that the Cowboys and Broncos may be trying to wait each other out to see who will be the first team to set the market price for a top-five wide receiver.
6. Charles Clay, tight end, Miami Dolphins
- Franchise Tag Amount: $7.057 million (transition tag)
The Dolphins used the transition tag on Clay, which means he will be guaranteed to make just over $7 million in 2015 if he doesn’t agree to a long-term extension with the Dolphins or another team. Clay will certainly attract plenty of interest on the free agency market, and the Dolphins may be forced to make a tough decision if the four-year NFL veteran receives a substantial contract offer from another team.