NFL Free Agency: Transition Tag

The Transition Tender is very similar to the Franchise Tender, albeit at a reduced salary and without drat pick protection. In any given year, the team can use either one or the other on an upcoming free agent. The time frame to use the tender is the same as the franchise tag (Sec. 3, (a), p. 47). The tenders are also similar because both can be withdrawn at any time before the player accepts but are guaranteed for skill, cap and injury once signed (Sec. 4, (a-c), p. 47-48).

The tender is a one-year contract worth the higher of the cap percentage (same calculation*) of the ten greatest Prior Year Salaries at the player’s position or 120% of his own Prior Year Salary. If a player receives the latter, all terms from his previous player contract transfer to the tender (Sec. 11, p. 50).

In 2015, the Miami Dolphins placed the transition tag on tight end Charles Clay. The tag is worth $7.071 million for tight ends. Clay is free to negotiate with other teams until July 22. Should he sign an offer sheet with a new team, his former team holds the right of first refusal. However, there is no draft pick compensation for a transition player. If no deal is struck by this date, the player can only be contracted by his initial team.

Like the franchise tag, the player has until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season to sign his tender. If this date passes, the player is ineligible to play in the NFL for the rest of that year. He will not accrue a year towards free agency and the team will still hold the right to use a tender on him.

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