Bills unlikely to use franchise or transition tag

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Nick Wojton
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If the Bills want to use it, as of Tuesday, the NFL’s window for clubs to apply the franchise tag has opened.

At the start of the offseason, Buffalo general manager Brandon Beane did not take using a tag off the table when discussing the Bills’ most obvious candidate for it, linebacker Matt Milano. When asked about Milano specifically, Beane did not say.

“Anything is [possible]. We want to keep good players, but you know it’ll come back to that cap, what we can afford, and if it’s $175M, we’re right at it now,” Beane said at the end of January. “We want to keep good players and Matt’s a good player.”

Since then, the latest update on Milano indicates he will likely hit the free agent market. The purpose of the tag is for a team to essentially keep a player under a big price tag via a one-year contract to keep the player off the free agent market. For example, it seems the Cowboys will do so with quarterback Dak Prescott in an attempt to workout a long-term deal with him. The transition tag is another form of the tag worth a lesser sum but players are allowed to sign offer sheets with team teams.

The price tag of the franchised player fluctuates depending on position. For a linebacker, it’s somewhere near $15.7 million in 2021, per Over The Cap. Considering the latest news, and even at the time Beane made those remarks, it was always very unlikely the Bills are going to use the tag on Milano or anyone.

Currently the NFL does not have a salary cap set. The only thing the league has done is set a “cap floor.” That number is at $180M, which means it will not go lower than that. Reportedly it could go up to $185M, but it’s certainly not going to go near 2020’s number of $198.2M. Typically each year, the cap goes up, but due to COVID-19 keeping fans out of stadiums, revenues went down and so will the salary cap.

For the Bills, if an optimistic person wants to say the cap will be at $185M, per Spotrac, the Bills have $4.5M in cap space. Adding near $16M to that via a tag for Milano? That makes it virtually impossible to consider the tag for Milano at this time.

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