The rarely-used transition tag was applied to two players on Monday just prior to the franchise and transition tag deadline, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns slapped Jason Worilds and Alex Mack with the designation, respectively.
While the transition tag gives players a similar one-year deal to that of the franchise tag, it doesn't necessarily lock a player into a deal with their current team. Instead, Mack and Worilds will be free to negotiate with any team they wish, including the Jaguars, as that is a team that would realistically make sense as a landing spot for both.
However, if a deal is reached and an offer is made, the Browns and Steelers would have the opportunity to match any offer given to their tagged player. If they choose not to match the deal, they would receive zero compensation as opposed to the franchise tag that awards a team two first-round picks if another team signs their franchise-tagged player.
So what is the advantage for the Browns and Steelers to use the transition tag rather than the franchise tag?
First, the transition tag pays an average of the top 10 highest-paid at any given position while the franchise tag pays an average of the top 5. That means a difference of more than $1.6 million for both Mack and Worilds.
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The other advantage of the transition tag for teams is that it can force another team to do contract negotiations on their behalf. For the Browns, who have plenty of cap space, they can allow Mack to test the open market, negotiate with a team and agree to an offer. Then the Browns can nab Mack at that price.
That might not be as easy for the Steelers, who don't have much cap room at all to work with. If a team signs Worilds to a front-loaded deal that has a high cap number for the 2014 season, it might be very difficult for the team to match.
Ultimately, the transition tag most likely means the Jaguars are out of the market for Mack, but doesn't mean they have to avoid going after Worilds.