NFL free agency will begin on March 17. Tomorrow, February 23, marks the day that teams can begin to designate potential free agents with the franchise tag.
As a refresher, a team can franchise-tag any potential unrestricted free agent on the roster and the player in question has to sign the franchise tag if he wants to play the following season. The franchise tag denotes that the player must be paid either 120 percent of what he was paid the previous season or the average of the top five salaries at his position, whichever number is bigger.
Teams used the franchise tag generously last season, as 14 players were franchise-tagged when the offseason began. Most of those players ended up playing the season on the franchise tag, although some (like Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones) used the tag as a foundation for contract negotiations and signed an extension before the offseason was finished. Each team will treat the franchise tag differently. All we know for sure is that a handful (at least) will use it.
With all that in mind, here are the five players most likely to be tagged this upcoming offseason.
Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott was one of three players named by NFL Network's Ian Rapoport as expected franchise tags this offseason, and it makes sense. Even though the Cowboys will incur a bit of a financial penalty by tagging Prescott two seasons in a row (they have to pay 120 percent of his previous year's salary, which in this case was the aggregate salary of the top five quarterback contracts in the league), they don't really have a choice, even with Prescott coming off a season-ending injury.