Agent’s Take: Franchise-tag deadline and NFL's other crucial offseason financial dates
The key dates with free-agency and financial ramifications through March 14 (first week of '18 league year)
by Joel Corry
21h ago • 13 min read
Following the biggest offensive display in Super Bowl history and an Eagles championship, all NFL teams have now entered the offseason, which means financial decisions take center stage.
Decisions made in the early part of the offseason can have long-lasting ramifications. Here's a look at key offseason dates running through the first week of the 2018 league year, which begins March 14.
Some dates have league-wide importance. Others can potentially affect specific player contracts and the salary cap of individual teams because they are crucial to the timing of contract restructures, pay cuts and players being released. Notable players have been highlighted on the appropriate date with how the event is specified in their respective contracts.
The waiver system began for 2018. Players with fewer than four years of service for benefit purposes are subject to waivers and their contracts can be claimed by other teams. Players with four or more years of service become free agents when released and can be immediately signed.
Feb. 7 (third day of waiver period)
$3.4 million* of Saints tight end Coby Fleener's $6.3 million 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed.
Raiders cornerback David Amerson's $5.5 million* 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed. By releasing Amerson on Feb. 5, the Raiders created $6 million of 2018 salary-cap room.
* - guaranteed for injury at signing
Feb. 9 (fifth day of waiver period)
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald's $11 million* 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed. Fitzgerald hasn't decided if he is going to retire or continue playing.
The salaries of several Seahawks are fully guaranteed: safety Kam Chancellor's $6.8 million* 2018 base salary, $4.9 million* of Russell Wilson's $15.5 million 2018 base salary, and $4.5 million* of wide receiver Doug Baldwin's $8.25 million 2018 base salary. Center Justin Britt's $7.75 million* 2018 base salary also becomes fully guaranteed. It will reduce to $2.75 million if the Seahawks commit to making the necessary $5 million payment to exercise an option for Britt's 2020 contract year. This can be done as early as the first day of the 2018 league year on March 14 but no later than the fifth day (March 18).
Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey's $5 million* 2018 base salary and $7 million* 2019 base salary are fully guaranteed.
This is the first day for the Broncos to exercise options on contracts for cornerback Chris Harris and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. A $1.1 million payment is required to pick up Harris' 2018 contract for $7.4 million. A $4 million payment is required to pick up Thomas' 2018 and 2019 contract years, totaling $22.5 million. The deadline to exercise their respective options is the last day of the 2017 league year, which is March 14.
Broncos offensive tackle Donald Stephenson's 2018 contract year voids. Stephenson becomes an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2018 league year. The Broncos will have a $1 million salary cap charge from the bonus proration relating to Stephenson's 2018 contract year.
* - guaranteed for injury at signing
Feb. 20 (22 days prior to 2018 league year)
The two-week period in which teams can designate franchise or transition players begins. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence are most likely to be franchised. Lawrence's franchise tag number should be $17.3 million if the 2018 salary cap is set at $178.1 million. Bell was franchised in 2017; a second franchise tag on him provides for a 120-percent increase over his $12.12 million 2017 number. Bell's would be $14.544 million. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has been designated as a franchise player the last two seasons. It would be $34,478,784 to franchise Cousins for a third time at a 44 percent raise over his $23,943,600 number for 2017.
This is the deadline for the Jaguars to exercise an option in tight end Marcedes Lewis' contract. A $500,000 payment is required to pick up his 2018 contract year for $3.5 million.
This is the last day for the Jets to pick up options for a 2018 contract year with offensive tackle Ben Ijalana ($4.75 million), outside linebacker Josh Martin ($1.8 million) and defensive tackle Steve McLendon ($3.375 million). To pick up Ijalana, Martin and McLendon's respective option years, $500,000, $150,000 and $250,000 payments are required.
Feb. 27-March 5
The NFL Scouting Combine takes place in Indianapolis. Meetings between agents of impending free agents and teams routinely occur at the combine, although these types of discussions are prohibited by NFL rules. Teams are rarely penalized for tampering with players from other teams when those players are scheduled to become free agents.
The period for designating franchise or transition players ends at 4 p.m. ET. The 49ers could franchise quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for $23.307 million (assumes a $178.1 million 2018 salary cap) if a long-term deal isn't in place before this deadline.
March 9 (five days prior to 2018 league year)
This is the final day for the Bears to pick up an option for offensive guard Josh Sitton's 2018 contract year worth $8 million. The period began on Feb. 9.
March 12-March 14
NFL teams are allowed to negotiate with the agents of prospective unrestricted free agents during a two-day period beginning at noon ET on March 12 and ending at 3:59 p.m. ET on March 14. During the two-day window, prospective unrestricted free agents can't visit teams or have direct contact with team employees, except those from their current clubs. A player's ability to re-sign with his current club isn't affected by the rule. The negotiating period does not apply to unsigned players receiving restricted free agent, franchise or transition tenders. Players who don't have an agent are also prohibited from having discussions with teams during this period.
March 14 (end of 2017 league year)
2017 league year ends at 3:59 p.m. ET.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees' 2018 through 2020 contract years void to make him an unrestricted free agent when the 2018 league year starts. There will be an $18 million salary-cap charge for the Saints because of the bonus proration from these contract years.
Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson's 2018 contract year voids. Johnson is an unrestricted free agent at the start of the 2018 league year. The Chiefs will have a $2.25 million salary-cap charge from the bonus proration relating to Johnson's 2018 contract year.
This is the deadline for the Eagles to pick up options on defensive end Chris Long and wide receiver Torrey Smith's future contract years. Long's 2018 through 2021 contract years, each worth $2.25 million, would be triggered. The last three years are voidable. The Eagles would get Smith in 2018 for $5 million.
Buccaneers offensive tackle Demar Dotson becomes an unrestricted free agent if this deadline to exercise an option his 2018 contract year worth $4.725 million isn't met. A $150,000 payment is required to pick up the 2018 year.
This is the last day for the Bengals to pick up an option for cornerback Adam Jones' 2018 contract year worth $6.5 million.
This is the final day for the Ravens to pick up an option for cornerback Brandon Carr's 2018 contract year of $6 million, which includes of a $1 million first day of the league-year roster bonus.
March 14 (first day of 2018 league year)
The top 51 begins: Only the top 51 salaries (i.e.: cap numbers), including unsigned franchise, transition, restricted free agent and exclusive rights tenders, on a team count against the salary cap during the offseason. All teams must be under the salary cap prior to 4 p.m. ET.
The 2018 league year and free agency begin at 4 p.m. ET.
The trading period begins at 4 p.m. ET. Quarterback Alex Smith's reported trade from the Chiefs to the Redskins can become official.
The Eagles' 10-day window to exercise an option for wide receiver Alshon Jeffery's 2021 contract year opens. Making the required $6.5 million payment to pick up Jeffery's 2021 season would lower his fully-guaranteed 2018 base salary from $7.75 million to $1.25 million. Jeffery's $11.75 million 2019 base salary, which was guaranteed for injury at signing, becomes fully guaranteed on March 16.
Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu's $5.75 million 2018 base salary and $8 million of his $10.75 million 2019 base salary, both currently unsecured, are fully guaranteed. Mathieu also has a $5 million roster bonus due on the third day of the league year (March 16).
This is the first day of a five-day period for the Panthers to pick up their option for offensive tackle Matt Kalil's 2021 contract year, which requires a $10 million payment. If Kalil's 2021 option year is declined, the Panthers will still owe him the $10 million provided he is a member of the team on March 19 (the sixth day of the league year). Payment of the $10 million will reduce Kalil's fully-guaranteed $11 million 2018 base salary to $1 million.
The salary for the 2018 option year with 2014 first-round picks, which was guaranteed for injury upon exercise, becomes fully guaranteed. Some of the players include Texans defensive end/outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney ($13.846 million), Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles ($19.053 million), Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack ($13.846 million), Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans ($13.258 million), Titans offensive tackle Taylor Lewan ($9.341 million), Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. ($8.459 million), Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($6.892 million) and Cowboys offensive guard Zack Martin ($9.431 million).
Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart's $1 million roster bonus is payable.
March 16 (third day of 2018 league year)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's $9.5 million* 2018 base salary, $13.5 million* 2019 base salary and $3.5 million* 2019 fifth-day-of-the-league-year roster bonus are fully guaranteed.
Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor's $6 million roster bonus is due. His $1 million 2018 base salary is already fully guaranteed. The Bills are expected to try to trade Taylor before the roster bonus must be paid.
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and offensive guard Gabe Jackson have money fully guaranteed: Carr's $7.4 million* 2018 base salary and Jackson's $4.25 million* 2018 base salary. Carr's fully guaranteed $15 million roster bonus is payable. Jackson's $4.25 million $6 million roster bonus that's guaranteed for skill and injury is also due.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's $14 million 2018 base salary, which is unsecured, becomes fully guaranteed.
Of Cardinals linebacker Chandler Jones' $12.5 million* 2018 base salary, $9 million is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $3.75 million and $11.5 million of his $16.5 million* 2019 base salary are fully guaranteed.
The Super Bowl champion Eagles have several contract guarantees vest. Of defensive tackle Fletcher Cox's $15.6 million 2019 base salary, $7.75 million is already fully guaranteed. Another $7.75 million becomes fully guaranteed. Of tight end Zach Ertz's 2018 base salary, $5,861,473 was previously guaranteed. An additional $2 million of his 2018 base salary is secure. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan's $11 million 2019 base salary is fully guaranteed. Of offensive tackle Jason Peters' $6.75 million 2018 base salary, $4.5 million becomes fully guaranteed. There were corresponding injury guarantees when the four players signed their contracts.
Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson's $16.75 million 2018 base salary, which is already guaranteed for injury, becomes fully guaranteed. By releasing Wilkerson, $11 million of salary cap room will be gained.
The base salaries of multiple Chiefs become fully guaranteed. Of safety Eric Berry's $8.9 million* 2018 base salary, $4.8 million is fully guaranteed ($4.1 million of this base salary was fully guaranteed at signing). $10.2 million of Berry's $12.4 million 2019 base salary was guaranteed for injury when he signed his contract last February, and $2.95 million of the $12.4 million becomes fully guaranteed. Of offensive tackle Eric Fisher's $11.15 million 2018 base salary, $8,217,023 is already fully guaranteed. The remaining $2,932,977 and $1,567,023 of Fisher's $9.85 million 2019 base salary are fully guaranteed. Tight end Travis Kelce's $6.8 million* 2018 base salary becomes fully guaranteed. Of offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz's $5.7 million 2018 salary, $2.34 million* is fully guaranteed. Of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif's $6.203 million 2019 base salary, $2.253 million becomes fully guaranteed ($6 million of the $6.203 million was guaranteed for injury at signing).
Bears quarterback Mike Glennon has a fully-guaranteed $2.5 million roster bonus payable.
A couple of Panthers have salary guarantees vest. Of defensive tackle Kawann Short's $12.5 million* 2018 base salary, $9 million is already fully guaranteed, and the remaining $3.75 million becomes fully guaranteed. Offensive guard Trai Turner's $4.703 million* 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed.
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown ($6 million), guard David DeCastro ($3.79 million), cornerback Joe Haden ($1 million), quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ($5 million), defensive end Stephon Tuitt ($7.5 million) and offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva ($3.5 million) have roster bonuses payable.
The base salaries of a few Vikings become secure. Defensive end Everson Griffen ($3.9 million*), defensive tackle Linval Joseph ($1.15 million*), offensive tackle Riley Reiff ($9.1 million*), cornerback Xavier Rhodes ($10.4 million*) and safety Harrison Smith ($7.65 million*) have their 2018 base salaries fully guaranteed. Joseph's $5 million injury-guaranteed roster bonus is payable, and $2.85 million* of wide receiver Adam Thielen's $3.85 million base salary is fully guaranteed. $1.15 million of running back Latavius Murray's $5.15 million 2018 base salary was guaranteed for injury upon execution of his contract. The entire $5.15 million is fully guaranteed.
Browns offensive guards Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler's salary guarantees are triggered: $1,335,223 of Bitonio's $6.5 million* 2019 base salary is fully guaranteed, and half of Zeitler's $10 million* 2018 base salary (the other $5 million of which was already fully guaranteed) becomes fully guaranteed, while $3.5 million of his $10 million* 2019 base is also secure.
$12 million* of Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon's $12.75 million 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed.
$11.115 million* of Dolphins safety Reshad Jones' $13.015 million 2019 base salary is fully guaranteed.
$6.5 million of Bills offensive tackle Cordy Glenn's $9.25 million 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed. $1.5 million of his 2018 base salary became fully guaranteed in March 2017.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and cornerback Casey Hayward's respective $5 million and $1 million roster bonuses are due.
Of Saints tackle Terron Armstead's injury-guaranteed $10.2 million 2018 base salary, $6.2 million is already fully guaranteed, and the remaining $4 million becomes fully guaranteed.
Packers wide receiver Davante Adams ($5 million), tackle David Bakhtiari ($6 million) and linebacker Nick Perry ($4.3 million) are due roster bonuses.
Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin's $3 million* 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed. His fully guaranteed $5 million 2018 fifth day of the league year roster bonus is payable.
* - guaranteed for injury at signing
March 18 (fifth day of 2018 league year)
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's $12 million 2018 base salary and $6 million fifth-day-of-the-2019-league-year roster bonus become fully guaranteed. The items contained injury guarantees when Luck signed his contract in 2016.
Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' $12.5 million* 2019 base salary becomes fully guaranteed.
More Eagles have salaries fully guaranteed: $5 million of defensive end Vinny Curry's $9 million 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed, $5 million of safety Malcolm Jenkins' $8.6 million base salary is fully guaranteed, and $2 million of safety Rodney McLeod's $6 million 2018 base salary becomes fully guaranteed (the other $4 million was already fully guaranteed). There were injury guarantees relating these amounts when Curry, Jenkins and McLeod signed their contracts. Super Bowl LII MVP quarterback Nick Foles' fully-guaranteed $3 million roster bonus is due.
Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas' $5 million roster bonus is payable. There is speculation that the 10-time Pro Bowler will retire.
A few Broncos have base salaries become fully guaranteed: $9 million of Broncos linebacker Von Miller's $17 million* 2019 base salary; $6.9 million* of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders' $8.15 million 2018 base salary, and safety Darian Stewart's $4.5 million* 2018 base salary.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning's $5 million roster bonus is payable.
The salaries of a couple of Redskins players are fully guaranteed: cornerback Josh Norman's $13.5 million* 2018 base salary; and $8 million* of tight end Jordan Reed's $8.25 million 2018 base salary.
Cornerback Darelle Revis' $1.015 million 2018 base salary and $8.8 million in 53-man roster bonuses ($550,000 per game) are fully guaranteed. Both are currently unsecured.
This is the last day for the Falcons to pick up their option for Desmond Trufant's 2022 contract year, which requires a $7 million payment. If Panthers pass on it, he will still be owed the $7 million provided he is on their roster on March 19 (the sixth day of the league year). Half of Trufant's $8.5 million* 2018 base salary was fully guaranteed when he signed in 2017, and the other half guaranteed becomes fully guaranteed on March 16.
A group of Dolphins have salaries fully guaranteed: $3.64 million of safety T.J. McDonald $5 million* 2019 base salary (his fully guaranteed $4.25 million roster bonus is also due), $2 million of wide receiver Kenny Stills' $7.975 million* 2019 base salary, and $8.5 million of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh's $16.985 million 2018 base salary. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has $5.525 million* of his $17.475 million 2018 base salary fully guaranteed.
Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson has $10.5 million* of his $13.5 million 2018 base salary fully guaranteed. Teammate Telvin Smith's $8 million* roster bonus is payable. The linebacker's roster bonus was fully guaranteed on March 14.
Cowboys center Travis Frederick's $10 million* 2018 base salary is fully guaranteed.
With $7.25 million of Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's $11.25 million* 2018 base salary already fully guaranteed, the remaining $4 million becomes fully guaranteed.
Of Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David's $8.75 million 2018 base salary, $3,818,291* is fully guaranteed.
Titans defensive lineman Jurrell Casey had $8.6 million of his $10.6 million 2018 base salary already fully guaranteed; the remaining $2 million* becomes fully guaranteed.
* - guaranteed for injury at signing
Former Sports Agent
Joel Corry is a former sports agent who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, a sports management firm that represents professional athletes and coaches. Before his tenure at Premier, Joel worked... FULL BIO