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Who Is About to Get Tagged?

The NFL’s 32-man game of tag between teams and players has just begun.

The winners, though, are already decided.

It’s the clubs that keep their top pending free agents from testing the market through use of the franchise designation.

As a refresher, “non-exclusive” franchise players are technically allowed to test free agency. But the steep compensation demanded — two first-round draft picks and the right to match the contract offered — traditionally chills interest.

An “exclusive” franchise designation comes with a higher one-year salary than the already lucrative dollars being given to the “non-exclusive” class. But it prevents that player from negotiating with any suitors.

The franchise numbers are also less this year because of a new formulating mechanism worked into the collective bargaining agreement reached last summer between the NFL and NFL Players Association.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson became the NFL’s first pending free agent Thursday when tagged by Philadelphia. If he were able to hit the open market March 13, it wouldn’t be considered unreasonable for Jackson to receive a guarantee of at least $15 million on a multiyear offer. Instead, Jackson is resigned to getting a one-year, $9.4 million salary in 2012 unless a long-term deal with the Eagles is reached.

Because the franchise tag doesn’t come cheap, some squads are unable to use it or have to make roster cuts to clear cap room. Other teams will be able to reach long-term deals before the NFL’s 4 p.m. ET Monday deadline to utilize the franchise designation. That scenario also gives clubs the freedom to tag another player.

Here is a look at how each team is handling its situation (one-year franchise salary number for the respective position is in parenthesis). —Alex Marvez (AP Photos)

Courtesy of

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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