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The 2014 NFL Salary Cap, Franchise or Transition Tags for Players: What Free Agency Means and Next Steps for Players

As Super Bowl LXVIII gets further in the rear view mirror, the NFL is moving along at break neck speed. The buzz on the street about the 2014 draft class of college players turning pro and now, the hyper-buzz about the list of free-agents that has opened up and is rolling along.

According to the Bleacher Report, Monday, March 3, 2014, was an extremely busy day around the NFL and, depending on your perspective, it was as good to players and they hoped it would be. Ticking off some significant factors-this is what is going on: Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported last week that the salary cap for 2014 has apparently been raised to $133 million, and NFL teams decided on Franchise or Transition Tags for players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.(NBC Sports, The Free Agent Hot 100, March 5, 2014)

So what does that mean for each of the 32 clubs in the league? Well, depending on how these teams have managed their money, they either have more or less money to spend on their own players andpotential free-agent additions as well.

“Each club should think about finances related to the salaries of free agents, restricted or unrestricted players. Even though a player may be covered by league health or team workers compensation insurance, they shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to purchase own-occupation insurance before the 2014 season begins,” advises Frank N. Darras, disability insurance lawyer to the pros. “This season should be really interesting to watch in regards to free agents, especially those with a franchise or transition tag. The Redskins lost a lot of their cap flexibility when they tagged outside linebacker Orakpo so they’ll want to get a veteran guard on the roster and choose wisely for the wideout opposite Pierre Garcon.”

Franchise tags this year included: Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Jets kicker Nick Folk, Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy, and Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.

A franchise tag locks down players when their earning potential is at its peak. This can be seen in two different ways: one, it limits players from establishing market value as free agents and two, it guarantees a contract with their team at a comparable salary to that players position. Since other teams aren’t likely to offer two first-round draft picks for the tagged player, chances are we will see some familiar faces on the same clubs this year. The July deadline will decide what type of contracts this year’s franchise tagged players will have since there may be some last minute negotiations. (The MMQB, In the NFL’s Game of Tag, You Don’t Want to be It, March 4, 2014),

Transition tags are a fairly rare occurrence but it was used twice this year for Steeler’s linebacker Jason Worilds and Browns center Alex Mack. It will be interesting to see if another team picks up Worilds since his future with the Steelers is so uncertain due to their mounting cap issues.

Both these teams may see trouble this season because it might take some doing for them to remain under the salary cap for 2014.

“Each player should talk with an expert regarding their finances and insurance options. No matter what team they end up playing for in the 2014 season, every player should be concerned about the possibility of a season or career ending injury. A disabling injury could severely limit possible career options so I highly encourage every free agent contact a top disability insurance lawyer or insurance expert to protect your hard-earned income,” says Darras.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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