NFL Franchise Tag: Will Michael Pittman Be Worth It?

NFL Franchise Tag: Will Michael Pittman Be Worth It?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

One of the most explosive pass-catchers in today’s NFL is officially staying in Indianapolis for at least another year, as Michael Pittman Jr. was designated for a franchise tag ahead of yesterday’s league’s deadline.

Pittman, 26, is a big reason why the Indianapolis Colts went right up until the last weekend before missing the playoffs, a thrilling ride for fans and good reason to keep Indiana sports betting cooking.

Pittman has become one of the best route runners in the league as a second-round pick out of USC, with 3,662 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns to go with an average approximate value (AV) of 34 in 62 NFL games.

Pittman broke career marks for receiving yards (1,152), receptions (109) and targets (156) last season, so the Colts’ decision to tag the fifth-year pro from Bakersfield had merit.

Utilizing, calculated the positive or negative difference between a franchise-tagged players’ season before and after the tag occurred. We then found the AV per player of the last three franchise tag classes combined.

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How Franchise Tagged Players Perform After Deals

Franchise Tag Class # of Players Franchise Tagged  Total Approximate Value (YoY change) Average Approximate Value (YoY change) 
2023  6-12-2.0 per player
2022 8-2-0.25 per player
2021 10-6-0.60 per player
3-Year Span  24-20-0.83 per player

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Can Pittman Snap NFL’s Franchise Tag Woes?

Over the past three classes of franchise-tagged players, a theme has emerged that few involved would like to see. Those athletes have seen a drop in average approximate value of .83 over the last three years.

Of the 24 players who have been tagged between 2021 and 2023, the total lost AV was -20, with the 2023 class seeing the largest decline (-12 AV across six players). The 2022 class had the smallest drop-off (-2 AV across eight players).

Of the franchise tag success stories, the shining star was Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had a +7 year-over-year improvement in AV (12 to 19 AV) between 2022 and 2023. The former Heisman winner also took home his second NFL MVP trophy along the way. Throw in Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott’s +8 AV improvement, from 6 AV in 2020 to 14 AV in 2021, and you have a picture of the successes that can come after a player is tagged.

On the flip side, the biggest drop-off among tagged players was running back Josh Jacobs (from 15 AV in 2022 to 6 AV in 2023). Wide receiver Allen Robinson (11 AV in 2020 to 3 AV in 2021) was the next closest.

For the Colts and Pittman, the hope is the rising star will continue his winning ways out wide in 2024, picking up where he left off a year ago when Indy finished above .500 for the first time in two years and came within an eyelash of making the postseason under first-year coach Shane Steichen. Indiana sports betting apps are sure to reflect that promise in future odds.

Based on recent trends, however, Colts fans will hope Pittman avoids the post-tag slump and proves himself worthy of a long-term deal.

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Christopher Boan is a staff writer for He has covered sports and sports betting for more than seven years and has worked for publications such as, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.