Before NFL free agency begins, teams are allowed to apply franchise tags to players beginning Feb. 21 through March 7 to give them a sense of what they need to do before the league year starts on March 15.
The franchise tag is a designation that teams can apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, and it binds the player to the team for one season. Franchise tag figures are based on the top five salaries at each position.
The NFL has told its 32 teams that the 2023 salary cap will be a record $224.8 million, up from $208.2 million last year.
Last season, eight players were franchise-tagged. Among them was wide receiver Davante Adams, whom the Green Bay Packers tagged before eventually trading him to the Las Vegas Raiders after he told Green Bay he would not play under the tag.
Here’s a look at players who have been tagged, the reasons they were and the tag figure:
Franchise tag salary: $18.937 million
Career highlights: Payne recorded a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2022, third among defensive tackles. He was second among all tackles with 21 tackles for a loss. Payne was named a Pro Bowl alternate this season, eventually being added to the game. Payne, who has started 75 games, has 26 career sacks.
Why he was tagged: Washington does not want to break up arguably the NFL’s best defensive tackle tandem. Jonathan Allen has made two consecutive Pro Bowls. Washington signed Allen to an extension in 2021 and, before this season, was reluctant to give Payne a similar deal based on past performance. But then Payne ascended. Washington will keep negotiating with him.
What he brings: Power and quickness off the ball. Washington uses a one-gap scheme so Payne’s ability to quickly shoot gaps makes him dangerous. Before last season, though, he was considered a run-stopper. He can also play over the center when they go to an odd front. He’s also durable: Payne hasn’t missed a game the past three seasons.