The Chiefs and the Franchise Tag

Here's some info on the franchise tag and what it means for the Chiefs.

Franchise Tag

Means a player that is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent (players are eligible to become an UFA with 4 years of service in the league) will be offered a 1 year tender at the average of the 5 highest paid players in the league at that position OR a 120% increase in their previous year's salary.

There are two types of franchise tags.  An exclusive rights franchise tag puts the player's salary at the average of the top 5 highest paid at his position OR a 120% increase in his previous year's salary.  The numbers are taken from the current year's franchise tag numbers (in this case 2009).  It's called exclusive because the player can not negotiate with other teams during this period.

A non-exclusive franchise tag is similar to the exclusive rights tag but the numbers used are the previous year's franchise numbers (in this case 2008).  In addition, the player can negotiate with other teams.  However, if a team chooses to offer the player a deal, his original team has the option of matching the terms of the deal.  If the offer is NOT matched, then 2 1st round picks are given up as compensation.  You'll notice most of the players that have been franchised are given the non-exclusive tag.  Notable exceptions to this include Nmandi Asomugha in 2008 and Dwight Freeney in 2007.

In both instances, if a player signs an offer sheet from his team the money is automatically guaranteed.

Transition Tag

A transition tag is similar to the franchise tag with a couple notable exceptions.  If you'll notice in the chart below, the number is a bit lower only because it's the average of the top 10 paid players at that position.

So why wouldn't teams offer the transition tag instead?  Because if a competing team makes an offer that is NOT matched by the original team, there is no compensation given up.

Position Franchise Tag Transition Tag
Quarterback $14.65 $12.44
Cornerback $9.96 $8.37
Wide Receiver $9.88 $8.39
Defensive End $8.99 $7.78
Offensive Line $8.45 $7.74
Linebacker $8.3 $7.48
Running Back $6.62 $5.92
Safety $6.34 $5.13
Defensive Tackle $6.06 $5.45
Tight End $4.46 $4.07
Punter/Kicker $2.48 $2.26

Another fun part of these tags is what's called a poison pill.  Let me give you a hypothetical of a poison pill.  Let's say Matt Cassel gets slapped with the transition tag.  The Chiefs would make an offer that says his contract becomes fully guaranteed if he isn't on the field for 70% of the offensive snaps.  So, the Patriots would essentially be unable to match that deal because they have that guy named Tom Brady on their team who will likely be getting the majority of the offensive snaps.  The poison pill is sneakier than a snake.  I love it.

Matt Cassel

The rumor is that the Patriots will apply the franchise tag to Matt Cassel.  It will likely be non-exclusive so they have the ability to negotiate with other teams.  Cassel and Brady would combine for approximately $29.2 million of their cap space so chances are Cassel won't be on the roster all season (assuming Brady is 100% by September).

Julius Peppers

A defensive end, Peppers will NOT be tendered at $8.99 million, the number for his position.  His cap number last year was a shade under $14 million, so a 20% increase in his salary would put his salary just under $17 million.

Jordan Gross

He was tagged last year.  This year, if the Panthers choose to keep him, will put his salary at approximately $9 million.

Terrell Suggs

He was tagged last year as well.  There was some confusion as to whether to treat him as a linebacker or a defensive end (which was eventually settled via an arbitrator).  His number in 2009 will be $10.17 million.

If any of the above players are slapped with the franchise tag, I can't imagine the Chiefs would be wiling to drop 2 1st round picks as compensation.  Think of it this way....would you be willing to give up Glenn Dorsey and Brandon Albert for any of these players that will also command a top contract?

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