Closer look at the franchise tag

February, 17, 2010
2/17/10
9:20
AM ET
NFL teams have until Feb. 25 to designate franchise and transition players.

The date could pass without much fanfare in the NFC West.

The 49ers are expected to name nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin their franchise player. Rules would require the 49ers to offer a one-year deal worth the average of the top five salaries for defensive tackles. That average is $7,003,000 -- lots of money, but less than teams must offer franchise players at seven of the 10 other positions (see chart below).

Franklin has never been named a franchise player. Salaries increase for players named franchise players for the second and third times.

For example, the Cardinals would have to extend a one-year, $16.405 million offer to Karlos Dansby if they chose to name him their franchise player for a third time. That's because three-time franchise players can receive the average of the five highest salaries at the highest-paid position, in this case quarterback. That stipulation came into play after the Seahawks made Walter Jones a three-time franchise player in 2004.

Article XX of the collective bargaining agreement, amended in 2006 and available for download here, breaks down the rules this way:

Any Club that designates a player as a Franchise Player for the third time shall, on the date the third such designation is made, be deemed to have tendered the player a one-year NFL Player Contract for the greater of:

  • (1) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position ... with the highest such average;
  • (2) 120 percent of the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position ... at which the player played the most games during the prior League Year; or
  • (3) 144 percent of his Prior Year Salary.

By way of example, a kicker designated as a Franchise Player for the third time in the 2007 League Year would have a Required Tender equal to the greater of:

  • (i) the average of the five largest 2006 Salaries for quarterbacks;
  • (ii) 120 percent of the average of the five largest 2006 Salaries for kickers;
  • or (iii) 144 percent of the player's own 2006 Salary.

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