Nine tags were applied in 2024

For tags applied to potential free agents, nine is the number.

And there's nothing lucky about it, not for the players. More than one fourth of the league used in 2024 the device that keeps a player whose contract has expired from becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The tag deadline has come and gone. The NFL has announced the moves made to keep free agents from getting multi-year deals on the open market.

Eight teams used the franchise tag. Here they are, officially:

Baltimore Ravens, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike.

Carolina Panthers, linebacker Brian Burns.

Chicago Bears, cornerback Jaylon Johnson.

Cincinnati Bengals, receiver Tee Higgins.

Indianapolis Colts, receiver Michael Pittman, Jr.

Jacksonville Jaguars, linebacker Josh Allen.

Kansas City Chiefs, cornerback L’Jarius Sneed

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, safety Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Also, the Patriots applied the transition tag to safety Kyle Dugger.

All tags were non-exclusive, which means that another team can — in theory — negotiate with the player and sign him to an offer sheet. If an offer sheet is signed and not matched, the current team gets two first-round picks as compensation.

For Dugger, the Patriots have secured only a right to match, with no compensation if Dugger changes teams.

Yes, the device gives the tagged players a healthy one-year compensation package. It also blocks them from getting an even healthier multi-year deal on the open market.

At one point, the league created a vague impression that receiving the franchise tag amounted to an honor of some sort. It most definitely does not; the tag restricts player movement, and it keeps the league's best players from pushing the market at the various positions as high as it can go. In turn, that keeps other veterans from getting more, based on a higher market value at each position.

That's why the league will never relinquish it. Even if the NFL Players Association offered to play twenty regular-season games, the NFL would refuse to give up the silver bullet that keeps free-agency contracts from potentially going haywire.