Dez Bryant received the franchise tag from the Cowboys. (David Banks/Getty Images)
Five players received the franchise tag this season, a slight increase from last year, when four were tagged. However, it still represents a seismic dropoff in previous years — down from eight in 2013 and 21 in 2012. Here’s a quick look at who was tagged.
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots: New England decided to place the franchise tag on Gostkowski, bypassing the chance to hit safety Devin McCourty. While McCourty could become one of the most coveted free agents on the market if he’s without a new deal by the time the new league year begins on March 10, the Patriots have made sure their former All-Pro kicker will stick around for at least one more season. According to our friend Miguel from Patscap.com, Gostkowski will receiver a salary of $4.59 million in 2015 — $4.44 million for 120 percent of the 2014 cap plus $100,000 for offseason and $50,000 for his Pro Bowl bonuses.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants: The pass-rushing specialist, who has 42 regular-season sacks in five seasons with New York, will get $14,813,000 for the 2015 season.
Outside linebacker Justin Houston, Chiefs: The 26-year-old All-Pro is coming off one of the best year’s in NFL history for a pass rusher — he finished 2014 with 22 sacks, second on the list behind Michael Strahan‘s 22.5 for most sacks in a single season.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant, Cowboys: The occasionally combustible pass catcher, who has had three straight seasons of at least 88 catches, got the tag in Dallas instead of running back DeMarco Murray, and will make a base salary of $12,823,000 for the 2015 season.
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Broncos: The 27-year-old Thomas, who evolved into one of Peyton Manning‘s favored targets over the last two seasons, has at least 92 regular-season catches a year the last three seasons with Denver. He’ll also make $12,823,000 next season.
In addition, Dolphins tight end Charles Clay was given the transition tag designation with a tender offer of $7,071,000. The transition tag comes with a lower salary total and allows any team to match any offer to the player. However, it doesn’t provide any compensation in the form of a draft pick if if the player signs elsewhere and the team declines to match the offer.