NFC West thinking on 2012 franchise tags

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
10:38
AM ET
The NFL has finally informed teams how much franchise players will cost them in 2012.

The numbers are very close to widely reported projections.

Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell and San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson were the only NFC West players hit with franchise tags this year. Each will receive a one-year offer for the values associated with their positions. Those values form the basis for negotiations on long-term agreements. That explains why teams are selective in how they use the tag.

Seattle wants to keep defensive end Red Bryant, but not badly enough to set his value at $10.6 million per season.

The Seahawks are betting that the market will not value a run-stuffing end at that level. Bryant is arguably the team's most important player against the run. He played about two-thirds of the defensive snaps last season, finishing with one sack and two interceptions. Bryant also blocked three field-goal tries and one extra-point attempt. The team values his presence in the locker room as well.

But that $10.6 million average reflects the figure set largely by pass-rushing ends. Campbell, despite playing in a 3-4 scheme, has 21 sacks over the past three seasons. He had eight sacks in 2011, plus 10 passes defensed and three blocked field-goal tries.

The franchise tag made sense for the 49ers as they sought to keep Goldson with the team at least one more season. The one-year rate for safeties is $6.2 million.

The values for cornerbacks (nearly $10.3 million) and wide receivers ($9.5 million) were too steep for NFC West teams' budgets. The 49ers' Carlos Rogers earned Pro Bowl honors at corner, but the team opted against setting his value north of $10 million annually. The St. Louis Rams need all the playmakers they can get, but they weren't willing to bet $9.5 million a year on Brandon Lloyd's ability to produce at a high level consistently in their new offense. Rogers and Lloyd both turn 31 before training camps open.

The fine print: One-year salaries for franchise players become guaranteed upon signing. Franchise players rarely attract attention in free agency, because any suitor would have to part with two first-round draft choices if the players' current teams declined their right to match outside offers. Franchise players must sit out the 2012 season if they do not sign between Tuesday and Nov. 13. Unsigned franchise players become unrestricted free agents if their teams withdraw the tag.

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