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Can a tagged player be signed by a different team in the NFL?

We discuss the different types of franchise tags and if players can be signed by other teams once they are tagged.

Chris Godwin #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

There are several ways that an NFL franchise can take steps to retain its players on a yearly basis. They can sign them to an extension during the regular season, in free agency in the offseason, or they can use a few different franchise or transition tag options to increase the chance of that player staying around for at least another year. If a player is tagged, he could still sign elsewhere, depending on the tag type.

Exclusive tag

An exclusive and non-exclusive franchise tag exists. The exclusive tag will see a player given a salary that is either the average of the top five yearly salaries at the position or 120% of their yearly salary from the last season, whichever is greater. An exclusive tag prevents the player from negotiating with other teams, and their only options are to sign the tag and play or sit out the season, as Le’Veon Bell did with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018.

Non-exclusive tag

The non-exclusive tag sees the same salary expectations as the exclusive. The key difference is that players with this tag can negotiate with other teams. If they strike a deal with another team, the original tagging team can match it in, and the player is still retained if they do. If the original team doesn’t match the offer, the player heads to the new team, which sends back two first-round picks to the original team as compensation.

Transition tag

The other type of tag is called the transition tag. It allows a team a little bit of a discount when trying to retain players, as their yearly salary would either be 120% of the previous year’s or the average of the top 10 at the position, whichever is greater. Players with the transition tag are able to negotiate with other teams. If a deal is reached, the original team can still match the deal to retain the player if they wish. The difference between this and the non-exclusive tag is that if the original team chooses not to match the deal, they are not given any compensation in return.