Now that the 2016 NFL salary cap has been officially set so has the price of what it will cost teams to use the franchise tag. With the Jets all but guaranteed to use the franchise tag this offseason let's take a look at what it would cost the team to tag either Muhammad Wilkerson or Damon Harrison.
The cost of using the franchise tag on a defensive tackle is $13.615 million, which basically means there's no way the Jets choose to use the tag on Harrison. As great as Harrison is he won't get anything close to $13 million. The tag at defensive tackle is thrown askew by big money 4-3 defensive tackles like Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy. If the Jets decide to use the tag on Wilkerson they will choose to, at most, slightly overpay him for the year, using it on Harrison would be massively overpaying for a nose tackle.
So, if the Jets do elect to tag Wilkerson (and barring some huge and unlikely last minute chance in negotiations they will) the Jets will be staring at $15.701 million being immediately charged against their cap. However, that number doesn't have to stay that high all season. If the Jets tag Wilkerson and come to a long-term agreement before the start of the season they would be able to negotiate a lower cap number for this year and if the Jets tag Wilkerson and trade him the entire $15.701 million would come off the books available to be spent elsewhere.
Of course there is also the available use of the transition tag but there's really no point in the transition tag still existing. The transition tag pays a one-year salary of an average of the top 10 contracts at the specific position (whereas the franchise tag is an average of the top five) and costs about $3 million less at the defensive tackle and defensive end positions but it will do very little to stop teams from poaching your talent.
Teams will figure out a way to structure their offers designed to make it the least cost-effective for the Jets and if they declined to match the offer they would lose the player and get nothing in return. By using the franchise tag the Jets would get two first round picks if another team decided to sign Wilkerson to a long-term deal and the Jets would certainly be interested in a deal like that.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com he can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (email@example.com)