- Teams can choose to place a franchise tag on one player and retain him for another season. That year the organization must pay the athlete either a) the average of the 5 biggest salaries for his position or b) 120% of the players previous annual salary, whichever is greater.
- A player under the franchise tag must play for the team that tags him the upcoming season (or not play at all, ex: Le’Veon Bell)
- Teams have until July 15 to work out a multi-year deal with the player, if a contract is not decided upon, the player plays under the salary decided by the franchise tag for that season.
The franchise tag is just a way for teams retain their top players and buy time to get a long-term contract done.
Of the players that I thought would get tagged, the only one that wasn’t is Landon Collins. This is great news for Colts fans because he seems to be a top target for fans. Pairing Collins with Malik Hooker would possibly allow Matthias Farley and Clayton Geathers to come off of the bench. This would give the team a ton of talent and depth at the safety position.
With the cap space available to Chris Ballard and the Colts, the capital is there to bring Collins in if there is mutual interest.
What has frustrated the situation for Collins in New York is that he wanted a multi-year contract locking him in at a high rate. The Giants were unwilling to give him the tag, which equates to around a 1-year deal for $11 million dollars. While the highest paid safety contract is $13 million a year (Eric Berry) and $11 million is not a lot less, the Giants had $27 million cap to use and they could afford to keep Collins for another year, even if it was just to trade him. The Giants are most certainly going to get a 3rd round compensatory pick for Collins, but I think, if they chose to trade him, the Giants could have gotten a high second.
Spotrac predicts his value to be around 9.3 million dollars, which is a Devin McCourty-type salary. I don’t think that Collins will sign for that cheap so I thought I’d take some of the top safety salaries and try to predict Collins future contract:
- Earl Thomas (4 years $40-million)
- Reshad Jones (4 years $48-million)
- MalcomJenkins (4 years $35-million)
- Harrison Smith (5 year $51-million)
The main difference between these guys and Collins is that his tackle count is much higher (106.5 average* missed a few games last year) while these guys are more around 79.9 tackles a season. Another difference is that the guys on there get more interceptions (2.28 INTs per season) than Collins (2 INTs per season* but 5 out of 8 came in 2016). Ball-hawk safeties tend to make more money just because they tend to last longer and turnovers are highly valued. However, I think that Collins is a good enough that he will get paid like a premier talent. If we average out their contracts we get 4-years and $47,300,000 and $11.825 APY (actual number is $43.5 throughout the contract but $47.3 is adjusted for inflation).
Overall, I think that the market pushes up his value slightly as there will be teams vying for his talent. In the end, the Colts have more salary capital than anyone else and if they truly want Collins, they’ll have him wearing the horseshoe next year.
One the flip side, Ballard has been quoted saying many a-time that “We put a value on a player. When it gets out of our reach, we are comfortable enough to sleep at night saying that we are going to find an answer,” and odds are that bidding for Collins will get out of hand.