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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Dust settles on NFC West franchise players

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
2009 NFL Franchise Player Pos. Team Status
Dunta Robinson
DB Texans Unsigned
Max Starks
OL Steelers Long-term deal
Matt Cassel
QB Chiefs Long-term deal
Terrell Suggs
LB Ravens Long-term deal
Brandon Jacobs
RB Giants Long-term deal
Julius Peppers
DE Panthers One-year deal
Antonio Bryant
WR Bucs One-year deal
Darren Sproles
RB Chargers One-year deal
Bo Scaife
TE Titans One-year deal
Shayne Graham
PK Bengals One-year deal
Michael Koenen
P Falcons One-year deal
Oshiomogho Atogwe
DB Rams One-year deal
Karlos Dansby
LB Cardinals One-year deal
Leroy Hill
LB Seahawks Tag withdrawn

All three franchise players from the NFC West are under contract after Oshiomogho Atogwe signed the Rams' one-year offer.

The chart shows how the franchise system generally rewarded players at premium positions: left tackle (Max Starks), quarterback (Matt Cassel) and pass-rusher (Terrell Suggs). Giants running back Brandon Jacobs also landed a long-term deal.

Eight franchise players signed one-year deals and only one of them, Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers, played a premium position (tackle, quarterback, pass-rusher, cornerback).

The fact that only three of the 14 franchise players had been to a Pro Bowl shows that teams use the franchise tag as a tool in free agency, not only as a mechanism to guard against losing true franchise cornerstones. The Seahawks demonstrated this by revoking the tag from linebacker Leroy Hill, who then settled for a discounted contract.

Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson is the only unsigned franchise player. Refusing to sign the one-year franchise offer prevents the Texans from fining him for missing training camp. Refusing to sign made little sense for Atogwe, who wanted to be in camp and was practicing even before he signed the franchise offer Wednesday.

From the collective bargaining agreement: "Any Club designating a Franchise Player shall have until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on July 15 of the League Year (or, if July 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the first Monday thereafter) for which the designation takes effect to sign the player to a multi-year contract or extension. After that date, the player may sign only a one-year Player Contract with his Prior Club for that season, and such Player Contract may not be extended until after the Club's last regular season game."