What is the franchise tag and will the NY Jets use it in 2024?

Will the Jets use the franchise tag this year?

Bryce Huff
Bryce Huff / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The NY Jets will have to make difficult decisions on a number of free agents this offseason. One possible option they could explore is using the franchise tag.

It's a route many NFL teams take each year, although it isn't always the preferred option for both the team and the player. The franchise tag is often seen as a last resort for organizations that are desperate to keep a player around.

Defensive end Bryce Huff is seen as the only true franchise tag candidate for the Jets this offseason. Huff is fresh off a career year in which he recorded double-digit sacks for the team.

Will the Jets use the franchise tag on Huff? More importantly, what exactly is the franchise tag? Those are the questions we'll look to answer today.

What is the NFL franchise tag?

In short, the NFL franchise tag is a one-year designation that can be placed on a team's internal unrestricted free agent that guarantees the player will be under contract for one more season if certain conditions are met.

Each NFL team is only permitted to use the franchise tag once per season, and it can be applied as either an exclusive or non-exclusive tag.

The exclusive tag is worth either the average of the top-five salaries at that player’s position OR 120% of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. The non-exclusive tag uses the top-five cap hits instead of salary.

The non-exclusive tag also gives players the opportunity to negotiate with other teams, although their original team maintains the right to match any offer or receive two first-round picks as compensation.

NFL teams almost always use the non-exclusive tag since it is the cheaper alternative.

When have the NY Jets used the franchise tag?

The Jets have used the franchise tag six times since its inception in 1993. The first player the Jets placed the franchise tag on was wide receiver Rob Moore in 1995.

Since then, the Jets have used the tag on the likes of defensive end John Abraham in 2006, linebacker David Harris in 2011, defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in 2016, and safety Marcus Maye in 2021.

Moore and Abraham were traded shortly after signing their franchise tags, while Harris and Wilkerson signed long-term extensions with the Jets in the aftermath. Maye played out the last year of his contract before walking in free agency.

Will the NY Jets franchise tag Bryce Huff?

As previously stated, Huff is the only true franchise tag candidate for the Jets this offseason. The former undrafted free agent is expected to be among the most highly-touted free agents on the open market.

Huff doesn't turn 26 until April and has been one of the most efficient and productive pass rushers in the NFL over the last two years. Those are typically the kinds of players teams want to keep around.

That said, the Jets are in a unique situation. The organization has been preparing for Huff's departure over the last two years, using first-round picks in consecutive years on Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald.

That's why it's unlikely the Jets are able to re-sign Huff this offseason. It's also hard to imagine a scenario in which the Jets place the franchise tag on Huff. The tag number for a defensive end in 2024 is projected at over $20.2 million, and there's no way to soften that cap hit.

ESPN's Rich Cimini reported last week that the Jets are not expected to place the franchise tag on Huff this offseason. Expect the budding star pass rusher to sign with a new team in the coming weeks.