Justin Houston And The Franchise TagBy: @sportswizard28
When Justin Houston signs his franchise tender he will be due 13.3 million. The compensation figure comes from an average of the top five players salary at that position. Houston led the NFL last season with a total of 22 sacks. He broke the club record once established by the late Derrick Thomas. Pretty nice to be a part of that and mentioned in same breath as Thomas. One more and he would have matched or maybe broken the record of Michael Strahan. There has been some confusion on exactly what Justin’s status is. The goal here is to bring awareness and just the facts without the acrimony. Some fans are calling Houston lazy, that he only cares about money and should be at every practice and OTAs regardless of his contract status. I do not share the opinion of fans who think he owes them 24/7.
First, we shall define the franchise tag and the different types of tag used by teams. The NFL introduced the franchise tag in 1993.  There are two types of franchise tag designations: the exclusive rights franchise tag, and non-exclusive rights franchise tag:
An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams. The player’s team has all the negotiating rights to the exclusive player.
A “non-exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five cap hits at the player’s position for the previous five years applied to the current salary cap, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. The Chiefs have used the non-exclusive franchise tag on Justin Houston. This means that he is entitled to receive offers and again sign an offer sheet as listed; the Chiefs have a right to match the offer or receive the two first round draft choices as compensation. Few teams attempt to sign such a player because the high price. Is Justin Houston worth the high price? I would say yes; however, the cost is steep. Moreover, whatever the cost, that team would have to negotiate a contract with him very quickly. As a Chiefs fan, I would sincerely hope the team does not decide that he is expendable. Houston is entering the prime of his career. There are teams out there that dream of having one pass rusher half as good as Justin Houston if the team decides they cannot keep him they better get something good in return.
Under the Capped years, a team can designate one additional player only as a transitional tag. A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.
Justin is Not under contract now but the Chiefs hold his rights. Fans, do not criticize Houston for wanting to get a raise. I believe some fans forget we got a first round pick in the third round of the draft from Georgia. The only reason he was available is that he had a drug charge for having marijuana. He has not tested positive in any other drug tests since the Combine of year he came out of Georgia as a rookie. He does not have a contract and will continue to be without the contract until he signs the franchise tag they used to retain his services back in March. Justin is a consummate pro and is staying in shape regardless how many fans think he is lazy and a bum. Yes, I have heard some supposed fans refer to him as that.
Second, he has until the tenth week of the season to sign and receive credit for a full season. He will want to attain a full season. The NFL says they must play in at least six games to get credit. He is moving toward the goal of free agency. He will be a free agent and free to sign with a team of his choice after completing the required number of seasons. Does this mean he will sit out of practices and games until the tenth week? The answer is: Yes and No. He could sit out but it might also send a signal to teams that if he were another team’s franchise tag he might do the same to them. I doubt his agent would advise him to do so. Houston is a consummate pro and stays in great shape. Nevertheless, at the same time, he is free to make this choices The Chiefs have no more say so in this situation until he signs the tender.
I hope this piece has provided some illumination on this complex subject. By exploring, the meaning of the various tags and how they apply perhaps you will have less anxiety and we can begin looking forward to the start of the new season.