The rumors started to circulate early on Thursday.
The first came from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport that the Denver Broncos and Von Miller were close to a "mega" deal. That led to wild speculation on what that means for the franchise tag and who John Elway could use it on.
There wasn't much news from his news conference at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Rather, the news came when he spoke with local reporters afterwards.
That's when Elway said he will not use the tag on quarterback Brock Osweiler and is open to using it on Malik Jackson. That makes total sense since the money for a franchise tag on a quarterback is over $19 million. No way Elway or the Broncos put that on the cap for 2016, on top of what Miller will get - even if it's a cap-friendly deal.
Elway said he thinks they're "in the ballpark" with talks with Von. Tagging Malik not out of the question. Doesn't want to use it on Brock.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) February 25, 2016
That would free up the franchise tag to use on Jackson.
This is where it would get intriguing for the Broncos. Says here that Elway and Denver would not use the exclusive tag on the free agent defensive lineman, but the non-exclusive tag.
The money the Broncos would have to pay Jackson drops, plus they would get the right to match any offer or get two first-round draft picks if they don't. There is potential for Denver to tag Jackson for a lower amount with the non-exclusive if it chooses to go that route (story update).
As the USA Today said, "It's a mechanism which allows a team, if it chooses, to tender a one-year offer to just one of its potential free agents. With slight variations to the calculus, the tag is basically worth the average of the top five salaries at the player's position. However, a previously well-compensated player, such as Detroit Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, would receive 120% of his prior year's salary if it represents a better raise.
"A player given an 'exclusive' tag, which is worth slightly more, cannot negotiate with other teams. A player given the 'non-exclusive' tag can deal with outside clubs, but if he's allowed to sign with a new team, his previous club is compensated with two first-round draft picks. (Four teams used the non-exclusive tag in 2014)."
One thing not an option as said repeatedly: #Broncos won't franchise Osweiler. They want him on multi-year deal— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) February 25, 2016
All of this is predicated on the Broncos signing Miller to a new deal. Depending on who you listen to, they are either really close, somewhere in the middle or haven't started "substantive" talks. But as is the case with situations like this, they move pretty quickly.
That would free up the franchise tag, and when people talked about that aspect for Denver it wasn't even mentioned as an option for Jackson. The non-exclusive allows him and his people to test the market to get more money. At the same time, the Broncos protect themselves if another team goes too rich for their blood and they lose him. Not only will teams have to pay Jackson but give up two first-round picks. That's a steep price and could be the difference in Denver keeping Jackson for another season and getting him signed to a long-term deal.
The offseason has officially arrived. Hold on, it will go pretty fast.