The Buffalo Bills, along with the rest of the NFL, are within the franchise tagging timeframe which began two days ago and will go until March 2nd.
A franchise tag is a tag that each NFL team receives and is able to use once per year, if they choose. HOw it works is if a player is tagged as a frnachise player, then they are locked into that team for another year and will receive the average of the top 5 salaries at their position of 120% of their salary from the previous year, which ever is larger.
There is another option and it is the transition tag. Similar to the franchise tag, the transition tag will allow a team to put a tag on the player which will be equal to the average of the top 10 salaries at the position or 120% of the previous years pay, which ever is larger, but the difference in the two is that with a transition tag, the player is able to still go out and seek employment with another team. If an offer is made from another team, the original tagging team will be able to match that offer. If not matched then the player walks, but without any type of compensation.
A transition tag with “non-exclusive” rights is the exact same as a transition tag but if a player receives an offer for employment under the transition tag and the originating team does not match, a compensation of 2 first round picks will be provided to the originating team.
So there are three options for the Buffalo Bills to make on come players this year, with the franchise transaction tags. There are really only two players that stand out that the Bills may consider to use either of these tags on; Jerry Hughes and C.J. Spiller.
Out of the two, I think that Jerry Hughes is the bigger need, to continued a strong front on the defensive line. With C.J. Spiller, there are other backs such as Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown that provide a little depth on the team, plus Spiller has been injury prone the past couple of years and has not averaged more than 134 carries over his 5 years with the Bills.
Spiller is still a good option, but I would look to place the transition tag on C.J. Spiller and allow him to go look elsewhere as well. I would, if it came down to it, apply the franchise tag to Jerry Hughes, of which he has stated he would not be opposed to, if it came to that.
Here is a look at the salary options for players being placed under the franchise tag option.
Quarterbacks: $18.51 million
Running backs: $10.93 million
Wide receivers: $12.80 million
Tight ends: $8.33 million
Offensive linemen: $12.93 million
Defensive tackle: $11.17 million
Defensive ends: $14.78 million
Linebackers: $13.17 million
Cornerbacks: $13.05 million
Safeties: $9.60 million
Kickers/Punters: $4.12 million
Using the Franchise tag will cost a pretty penny, but if you are looking to extend the services of a player as well as provide more time to negotiate a long term contract with that player, the franchise tag might not be a bad option. Transition tags are available as well and will cost you just a little bit less, depending on the salary of the player.