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Tagging Jameis Winston (and others)

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And no, I’m not talking about spray paint, you nerds.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are very likely to use the franchise tag on Jameis Winston.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

If you pay any attention to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I mean like, even the smallest amount - then you know all about the upcoming decision that pertains to starting quarterback Jameis Winston.

If you don’t, just google his name and it’ll take about five minutes for you to get the full context of the situation. Or, go here. It’s all you need to be fully addressed on the situation. I’ll see ya shortly.

OK, now that you’re up to speed, it’s easy to see why the Bucs are at a crossroads when it comes to deciding Winston’s future.

In actuality, Winston has done more good things than he has done bad during his time in Tampa Bay. But, the NFL is all about results and the Bucs have been a rollercoaster of results over the past five years, with the most common result being losing seasons.

So, the Bucs have three options with Winston: sign him long-term, let him walk, or “tag” him in some fashion.

The first two are obvious in terms of context and the long-term option won’t matter until the contract details come out, but the “tag” option takes a bit of navigation in order to fully understand what the Bucs could do in that regard.

The “Non-Exclusive” franchise tag

What is it and how does it apply to Winston and the Bucs?

This is by far and away the best option for the franchise making this decision and it’s the most common tag used. It doesn’t pin the player down negotiation-wise and the club will receive serious compensation if said player decides to walk. It’s kind of a win-win for both parties, in a sense.

Let’s say the Bucs decide to use this tag on Winston. While he is still allowed to negotiate with other teams, the Bucs have the right to match any offer he may receive, or they will receive two first-round picks as compensation if they can’t match said offer.

So, let’s say the Colts offer Winston a two-year/$70 million deal (completely hypothetical). The Bucs would be able to match that offer and retain Winston. If they decide that is too expensive and let him sign with the Colts, they would obviously lose Winston, but they would receive two first-round picks as compensation.

Two first-round picks are extremely valuable and would certainly help ease the pain of Winston’s loss.

Any choice in this matter is philosophically subjective, but this decision is as close to objectivity as you can get. It would make little sense for the Bucs to forego this route.

The price: This tag - and the “exclusive” tag - is a one-year offer for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of his previous salary, whichever is greater. Right now, overthecap.com has both the “non-exclusive” and “exclusive” tags at $26,895,000 in 2020.**

The “Exclusive” franchise tag

What is it and how does it apply to Winston and the Bucs?

This tag is much more restrictive than the previous tag and allows the franchise to control every aspect of Winston’s rights. Outside of a holdout, of course.

If the Bucs decide to use this tag on Winston, then he would not be allowed to negotiate with other teams. He would essentially be forced to sign with Tampa Bay for another year, much like Le’Veon Bell with the Jets and Kirk Cousins with the Redskins. This route can hurt the relationship between a player and a franchise, which is what we saw with those two players.

A lot of this decision depends on how the club views their player’s market. If the Bucs really want Winston around in 2020 and also believe that he will receive multiple, high-priced offers in which they can’t match, then they could slap him with this tag and prevent that from happening.

This move more protects the franchise, but makes sense when you consider the fluidity/turnover of a NFL roster. If the Bucs go this route, then Winston is 100% back in 2020.

The price: The same as the “non-exclusive” tag. It’s a one-year offer for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five years, or 120 percent of his previous salary, whichever is greater.**

The “Transition” tag

What is it and how does it apply to Winston and the Bucs?

This is the cheapest option of the three, but like the saying goes: You get what you pay for.

Tampa Bay could use this tag on Winston, which would allow them to match any offer he receives, but the Bucs wouldn’t receive any compensation if another team were to outbid them. The only benefit with this move is that if the Bucs do in fact keep Winston without having to match any offer(s), then it would save them about $3.5 million in 2019.

That amount - or lack - of savings is not worth the risk the Bucs would be taking here. That is a small reward and would only represent luck, not skill, if the Bucs were to pull it off.

It would make little to zero sense for the Bucs to use this on Winston. Sure, he’s had his bad moments for the Bucs, but they’d be crazy to let him walk without receiving any compensation. Not only would that be a bad move on their part, but it could also hamper the team in terms of development over the coming years. That’s not very ideal for a staff that wants to “win now”.

Plus, it also feels like this type of move would read as a, “Well, we tried, BUT...” move on the Bucs’ part. It would be highly questionable and very counter-intuitive if the franchise decides to go this route.

So, using the Colts again, if they were to come in and offer Winston the aforementioned deal and the Bucs decide to not match the offer, then Winston could become a Colt and the Bucs would be left with nothing.

The price: A one-year offer for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position -- as opposed to top five for the franchise tag. Overthecap.com currently has this tag at $24,373,000 in 2020.**

**Projected tenders are based on future salary cap estimations and are subject to change when a future salary cap is made official, per overthecap.com**


A REAL QUICK NOTE:

This same scenario goes for Shaq Barrett or any other candidate that the Bucs decide to apply the tag(s) to. Usually, you can only use one of the three tags on one player, but 2020 will be different under the CBA that was constructed back in 2011. Teams will be able to use one of the franchise tags AND the transition tag. Therefore, the Bucs could franchise one player and transition the other.


Poll

If the Bucs decide to tag Jameis, which one should they use?

This poll is closed

  • 81%
    Non-exclusive tag
    (222 votes)
  • 9%
    Exclusive tag
    (26 votes)
  • 9%
    Transition tag
    (26 votes)
274 votes total Vote Now