Before free agency kicks off for the 2022 NFL offseason, teams are allowed to apply franchise tags to players to give them a sense of what they need to do before the league year starts on March 16.
The Kansas City Chiefs became the first known team to put their franchise tag on a player, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday morning, when offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr. was tagged before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline.
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.
This year, the salary cap is projected to be $208.2 million, according to Spotrac, up from $182.5 million in 2021.
Last season, 10 players were franchised, a group headlined by Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott before he went on to complete a four-year, $160 million contract extension.
Several teams face big decisions as far as rosters are concerned this offseason. Free-agency decisions, along with franchise tags, will be vital for teams to piece together their rosters. Teams will also be able to make trades, and then there’s the draft (April 28-30), where teams can infuse youth.
Here’s a look at Brown, the reason why he was tagged and the tag figure:
Orlando Brown Jr., LT, Kansas City Chiefs
Franchise tag salary: $16.5 million (estimated, the final figure has not been set yet)
Career highlights: Brown is a three-time Pro Bowler, twice in his first three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and then last season with the Chiefs. Last year, Brown requested a trade to a team that would play him at left tackle, his preferred position. He was mostly a right tackle with the Ravens. The Chiefs, after releasing longtime left tackle Eric Fisher, had a need and sent their 2021 first-round draft choice, among other picks, to the Ravens. Brown played well with the Chiefs, and at age 25 looks to be their long-term solution at the position.
Why he was tagged: The Chiefs weren’t going to relinquish last year’s first-round draft pick in return for a one-year player. There was a sense when they completed the trade for Brown, then heading into the final year of his contract, and didn’t immediately sign him to a long-term extension that this was the likely outcome for Brown. The Chiefs, picking 30th in the first round this year, had no easy way of finding an adequate replacement for Brown if they decided to let him get to free agency.
What he brings: Brown, at 365 pounds, is bigger and stronger than most players at his position. Generally, if he gets his hands on an opposing pass-rusher, Brown wins that snap. But he doesn’t have quick feet for a tackle and can struggle at times with speed rushers. That’s one reason some teams were shy about acquiring Brown to play him at left tackle. But he had enough winning snaps last season that the Chiefs felt comfortable going forward with him at a most important line position — Adam Teicher
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