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Monday, February 18, 2013
NFC West perspective on franchise tag

By Mike Sando

NFC West teams have used the franchise player designation nine times for eight players over the past five years.

Only twice did the franchise tag lead to a long-term agreement between the parties.

That figure could rise to three if the San Francisco 49ers sign 2012 franchise player Dashon Goldson to a long-term deal. Until then, Arizona's Calais Campbell (2012) and Seattle's Marcus Trufant (2008) remain the only ones over that five-year period. The league-wide figures were higher in 2012, with 12 of the 21 franchise players reaching agreement on multiyear contracts. Four of the 12 were punters or kickers.



These trends came to mind Monday as the NFL's period for designating franchise players was opening for the first time in 2013.

Goldson, St. Louis receiver Danny Amendola and Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka have been widely mentioned as potential candidates for the tag. Each is without a contract for the coming season. As a franchise player, each would receive a one-year offer for the values outlined in the chart. None would become an unrestricted free agent.

The first chart shows projected values for non-exclusive franchise players. Nearly all franchise players are non-exclusive ones. They're free to negotiate with other teams, but their current teams retain right of first refusal. And if their current teams decided against matching an outside offer, those teams would receive two first-round draft choices from the signing team.

Teams can also name exclusive franchise players at higher prices. This rarely happens, however. Drew Brees (2012), Peyton Manning (2011), Michael Vick (2011), Richard Seymour (2010), Nnamdi Asomugha (2008) and Dwight Freeney (2007) were the only exclusive franchise players since 2005.

The values listed in the first chart reflect averages for the five highest-paid players at the corresponding positions. Franchise players receive that amount or 120 percent of their salary in the previous year, whichever is greater.

Sometimes, the price for naming a franchise player is low enough for teams to use the tag merely out of convenience. That is generally the case with kickers and punters. It has sometimes been the case with safeties and tight ends.

Amendola's situation in St. Louis is a little different. The Rams value him. They love what he offers the offense and the toughness he brings to the team. But they also know injuries have limited Amendola to nine games over the past two seasons. That could affect their thinking on a long-term deal.