Fantasy Free Agency Thoughts

A good read from PFF.

  • Giants RB Saquon Barkley: The soon-to-be 26-year-old talent certainly bounced back in a major way with 1,650 total yards and 10 scores in 2022. That said, Barkley struggled to impact games in the same breathtaking manner as he did back in 2018, as his once elite ability to rack up yards after contact (2.8, tied for No. 27) and force missed tackles (0.14, tied for No. 30) was lacking. He also ranked outside PFF’s top-30 running backs in yards per route run and PFF receiving grade.
  • Las Vegas Raiders RB Josh Jacobs: The first-team All-Pro veteran racked up a league-high 2,053 total yards from scrimmage while serving as the workhorse of Josh McDaniels’ new-look Raiders offense. Twenty-five years old in February, Jacobs might draw more interest on the open market than anyone else at the position.
  • Dallas Cowboys RB Tony Pollard: His future is suddenly far less bright after suffering a fractured left fibula during the Cowboys’ divisional round loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Of course, Pollard is capable of pretty awesome heights when healthy: Only Nick Chubb (93.3) and Jacobs (93.2) have higher PFF rushing grades than Pollard (92.8) since he entered the league in 2019.

Good info on all three RBs. Jacobs loos like the only sure tag. JMO

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Both Saquon and Pollard carry another question mark.

The Giants are also losing Daniel Jones to free agency, and they can tag only 1 of Jones or Saquon. while retaining the other one via a new contract would come costly.

Same for the Cowboys. Here, it’s Pollard and TE Dalton Schultz, who already plays on the tag. And he’s been a cornerstone of the Cowboys’ offense. Good as Pollard has been, but the Cowboys can cut the ties with Zeke earliest after the 2023 season. Pollard’s best hope is that Schultz agrees to a new contract. But his market value hasn’t gotten any lower, so I don’t know what the chances are.

For the Raiders, I don’t see a player they’d rather use the franchise tag on than Josh Jacobs. However, the question is if Jacobs will be ready to play under the franchise tag, after his monster season. He could certainly make more money elsewhere.

I’m not exactly sure how it works - in 2022 (the 4th year of his rookie contract), he earned some $3.8m. In 2023, he would have earned $8m, but the Raiders voided the 5th year option. If they now tag him, would his new salary be based on his 2022 salary, or on the money he would have made in 2023 under his old contract?

My guess is the former, and I have strong doubts Jacobs will be ready to risk his health for a little over $4m, which would keep him out of the top 20 in terms of RB salaries. And honestly, I couldn’t blame him if he then decided to sit out in 2023.


Here’s what I found on the franchise tag:

What Is the Difference Between an Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag?

The most common type of franchise tag is the non-exclusive one, which means that NFL players can still negotiate with other teams following the application of the tag. Meanwhile, the exclusive franchise tag prevents players from negotiating with other teams.

If the negotiations on a non-exclusive tag lead to a contract offer, then the team applying the franchise tag would have a first right of refusal in terms of matching the offer. If the team applying the tag declines to match the offer sheet, the team proposing the offer would send two first-round NFL draft picks in return for signing the player.

In the 2020 offseason, Dak Prescott was given the exclusive franchise tag and could not negotiate with other teams. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Chargers gave Hunter Henry the non-exclusive franchise tag. Henry was able to negotiate with other teams, who could decide if they felt he was worth the price of two first-round picks.

The benefit of applying the non-exclusive franchise tag is that it comes at a slightly lower cost than the exclusive tag. The cost of the non-exclusive tag is calculated by averaging the top five cap hits at the position for the previous five years. That number is then adjusted proportionally to the salary cap for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, the cost of the exclusive franchise tag is actually not fully known when it is applied. Following that year’s free agency, the cost of the exclusive franchise tag is calculated as the average of the top five cap numbers at the position when free agency is over. The value is usually finalized in mid-April.

There are times when the two calculations above are not used. If the calculated franchise tag value is lower than 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, then the 120% number is used instead. That is the case for either the exclusive or non-exclusive franchise tag.

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Neither, the NFL sets tag contract numbers. Last year it was over $9.5M for a RB

Sorry, did not see this before posting.

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I I thought it was a VG and well written article. Ian does have a way with words and adds a fair amount of humor.

Right! I thought the “average of the top 5 of the position in the previous year” applied only to exclusive tags, but it indeed applies to non-exclusive tags as well.

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