The window to franchise tag players opened yesterday, and it will extend all the way to March 9th. The franchise tag, of course, takes the average salary at the top five positions a player plays at, pays the player this rate for the upcoming season, and prevents him from leaving through free agency. Yes, it limits player mobility. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I hate it.
One of the questions the Texans faced this offseason was whether or not they would tag Will Fuller. If you forgot, Fuller finally had the first entirely healthy season of his career and was one of the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL, only to lose it all because of a failed PED test. He will be suspended until Week Two of the 2021 season.
Although they could prevent Fuller from leaving by using the franchise tag, Aaron Wilson reports that the Texans do not plan to use the tag on the wide receiver.
Texans do not plan to designate Will Fuller as their franchise player, according to league sources. https://t.co/bisj8JiWPo— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) February 25, 2021
That doesn’t mean the Texans don’t have other options to keep Fuller in Houston. The Texans could use the transition tag; that pays a player paid an average of the top ten players at his respected position and allows the team to match any offer another team makes. Houston could also look to sign Fuller to a long-term extension.
With the deep wide receiver free agent class, Fuller may not receive the $15 million a year offer necessary to make franchise tagging him worthwhile. The transition tag, or a contract extension, would be a better use of the Texans’ resources. That is, if Houston is looking to keep Fuller at all and is able to coax Deshaun Watson into playing football in Houston again.
There are two offseasons at play for Houston—the one where they keep Watson, and the one where they trade him. It’s still murky which timeline they will trample down.