The Chicago Bears have until Thursday, March 12 to use their Franchise and Transition Tags on their current unrestricted free agents before they hit the open market.
Rumors are the Bears have made ILB Nick Kwiatkoski a priority signing, but supposedly, so have a number of other NFL teams that include the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.
By placing the transition tag on unrestricted free agent Kwiatkoski, the Bears will have the right to match any offer he receives from another team and allow them to continue to negotiate a long-term deal without the risk of losing him entirely to free agency.
Teams can only use the transition tag once per season and can’t use the transition tag and franchise tag in the same season. Unlike the franchise tag, if the player signs elsewhere the team gets no compensation for its loss.
The Bears selected Kwiatkoski in the fourth round (113th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft.
To draft him, the Bears traded their fourth (117th overall) and sixth-round picks (206th overall) to the Los Angeles Rams in order to move up. Kwiatkoski signed a four-year rookie contract for $2.91 million that included a $575,120 signing bonus.
Like the franchise tag, the transition tag also is a one-year contract, fully guaranteed. In this case, it’s the average of the top-10 highest-paid players at the tagged player’s position, or 120 percent of what the player made the previous year if a long-term deal can’t be reached by July.
Kwiatkoski will only be 27 years old at the start of the 2020 season and had a stellar season last year, starting in place of Roquan Smith in week four then taking over for injured ILB Danny Trevathan the remaining eight games of the year. Kwiatkoski took over the play-calling duties and compiled 75 tackles, 3 sacks, a safety, and an interception. Pairing him with a healthy, playmaking Roquan Smith could make them a feared tandem in the middle.
As always, it will come down to dollars and sense.
Can the Bears fit the salary he will command on the open market into their existing cap and will it make long-term sense to do so?
Regardless, Kwiatkoski won over fans and teammates with his physical play and blitzing ability.
The rest of the league took notice as well if Pace doesn’t apply the tag they will have to explore other options, including bringing back the well-respected veteran Trevathan or the athletic Kevin Pierre-Louis. Here is hoping #44 is back in blue and orange.