The high cost of franchise & transition tags

Here's a detailed look at the cost of what it would take for the 49ers to place the franchise or transition tag on any of the potential free agents on their 2006 roster, along with the salaries of the top-paid players at each position in the league on which those numbers are based.

Teams throughout the NFL have until 4 p.m. (EST) Thursday to designate potential free agents as either franchise or transition players. For the first time since 2003, the 49ers won't be one of those teams. In reality, the Niners have only one player on their entire roster headed for unrestricted free agency next month who is worthy of being tagged, but that won't happen to linebacker Julian Peterson this year because of the exorbitant price that would be attached to his one-year tender.

The 49ers would have to offer Peterson a one-year tender of $8.75 million if they slapped the franchise tag on him again this year – the franchise figure for linebackers this year is $7,169,000 – because he has been tagged by the team each of the past two seasons, and thus would require a 20 percent raise over the $7.288 million he earned on the one-year tender offer he signed last year.

Interestingly, the 49ers have five players currently under contract for 2006 on their roster who – according to NFL figures – are among the top 10 highest-paid players at their respective positions. Bryant Young ranks second among defensive ends, Tony Parrish ranks fifth among safeties, Andre Carter ranks fifth among linebackers, Eric Johnson ranks seventh among tight ends and Kevan Barlow ranks 10th among running backs.

There are two categories of franchise players. In the first, a team secures for itself exclusive negotiating rights by offering the player a one-year contract worth the average of the top five salaries at that position as of April 16. A non-exclusive franchise player gets a one-year offer for the average of the top five at his position through the last season (or a 20 percent raise – whichever is higher) but can talk to other clubs. But his current team has the right to match any offer, and if decides not to, it gets two No. 1 draft picks as compensation.

Transition players get a one-year offer of the average of the top 10 players at their position. Their old team has a right of first refusal but no entitlement to compensation if it elects not to match any new deal.

A team can only use one of the two tags. It's not unusual for teams to opt not to use the tag, as the 49ers already have said they will do this year. In 2005, 22 of the 32 NFL teams never designated a franchise player.

Here's the breakdown of franchise and transition numbers for this season at each position and the player salaries used to compute them. The individual salaries are based on base salary, earned bonuses and prorated signing bonus. The first figure listed beside each position is the franchise number; the second is the transition number.

QUARTERBACKS: $8,789,000/$8,327,000

The top 10: Brett Favre, Green Bay $10,133,333; Joey Harrington, Detroit $8,493,750; Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota $8,461,565; Peyton Manning, Indianapolis $8,431,666; Tom Brady, New England $8,423,750; Carson Palmer, Cincinnati $8,180,000; Michael Vick, Atlanta $7,992,857; Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia $7,861,055; David Carr, Houston $7,804,166; Aaron Brooks, New Orleans $7,483,333.

RUNNING BACKS: $6,085,000/$5,153,000

The top 10: LaDanian Tomlinson, S.D. $8,066,666; Rudi Johnson, Cin. $5,800,000; Ahman Green, G.B. $5,625,000; Curtis Martin, N.Y. Jets $5,590,354; Jamal Lewis, Balt. $5,342,367; Tiki Barber, N.Y. Giants $5,078,333; Priest Holmes, K.C. $4,570,804; Marshall Faulk, Ind. $4,027,856; Warrick Dunn, Atl. $3,859,999; KEVAN BARLOW, 49ERS, $3,570,840.

WIDE RECEIVERS: $6,172,000/$5,160,000

The top 10: Isaac Bruce, St. L. $9,240,709; Amani Toomer, N.Y. Giants $5,715,000; Rod Smith, Den. $5,551,628; Jimmy Smith, Jack. $5,274,333; Eric Moulds, Buff. $5,078,431; Joe Horn, N.O. $4,765,000; Muhsin Muhammad, Chi. $4,615,000; Roy Williams, Det. $3,845,000; Keenan McCardell, S.D. $3,766,666; Dennis Northcutt, Cle. $3,750,000.

TIGHT ENDS: $3,327,000/$2,718,000

The top 10: Tony Gonzalez, K.C. $4,831,370; Kellen Winslow, Cle. $3,599,375; Kyle Brady, Jack. $3,146,250; Jeremy Shockey, N.Y. Giants $2,685,000; Alge Crumpler, Atl. $2,372,533; Jim Kleinsasser, Minn. $2,350,000; ERIC JOHNSON, 49ERS, $2,200,000; Jerame Tuman, Pitt. $2,142,500; Bubba Franks, G.B. $2,050,000; Todd Heap, Balt. $1,800,000.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: $6,983,000/$6,391,000

The top 10: Jonathan Ogden, Balt. $7,861,459; Mike Williams, Buff. $7,813,764; Leonard Davis, Ariz. $6,599,416; Larry Allen, Dal. $6,558,333; Wayne Gandy, N.O. $6,083,333; Orlando Pace, St. L. $5,975,000; Flozell Adams, Dal. $5,900,000; Will Shields, K.C. $5,866,666; Jon Runyan, Phi. $5,700,000; Tarik Glenn, Ind. $5,550,666.

KICKER/PUNTER: $2,468,000/$2,045,000

The top 10: Mike Vanderjagt, Ind. $2,873,500; David Akers, Phi. $2,632,941; Neil Rackers, Ariz. $2,586,668; Jeff Wilkins, St. L. $2,275,000; Olindo Mare, Mia. $1,971,175; Ryan Longwell, G.B. $1,900,000; John Kasay, Car. $1,800,000; Jason Hanson, Det. $1,730,000; Sebastian Janikowski, Oak. $1,352,833; Brad Maynard, Chi. $1,330,000.

DEFENSIVE ENDS: $8,332,000/$7,075,000

The top 10: Simeon Rice, T.B. $10,700,000; BRYANT YOUNG, 49ERS, $7,878,549; Jason Taylor, Mia. $7,859,583; Adewale Ogunleye, Chi. $7,673,160; Reggie Hayward, Jack. $7,550,000; Michael Strahan, N.Y. Giants $7,478,285; Patrick Kerney, Atl. $5,664,285; Mike Rucker, Car. $5,574,000; Richard Seymour, N.E. $5,264,000; Aaron Smith, Pitt. $5,110,666.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: $5,656,000/$4,463,000

The top 10: Jamal Williams, S.D. $6,742,400; Marcus Stroud, Jack. $6,522,000; Pat Williams, Minn. $6,066,666; La'Roi Glover, Dal. $5,200,000; Dewayne Robertson, N.Y. Jets 3,751,105; Anthony McFarland, T.B. $3,506,236; Montae Reagor, Ind. $3,456,333; Josh Williams, Ind. $3,200,000; John Thornton, Cin. $3,125,000; Johnathan Sullivan, N.O. $3,062,546.

LINEBACKERS: $7,169,000/$6,144,000

The top 10: Derrick Brooks, T.B. $9,657,083; Ray Lewis, Balt. $8,428,571; Brian Urlacher, Chi. $6,100,510; Zach Thomas, Mia. $5,837,000; ANDRE CARTER, 49ERS, $5,821,249; LaVar Arrington, Wash. $5,540,980; Takeo Spikes, Buff. $5,300,000; Kenard Lang, Cle. $5,054,362; Joey Porter, Pitt. $4,887,083; Keith Brooking, Atl. $4,817,226.

CORNERBACKS: $5,893,000/$4,774,000

The top 10: Fred Smoot, Minn. $9,000,000; Sam Madison, Mia. $6,180,931; Dre' Bly, Det. $5,300,000; Ronde Barber, T.B. $5,114,000; Chris McAlister, Balt. $3,872,082; Jerry Azumah, Chi. $3,750,000; Quentin Jammer, S.D. $3,687,000; Brian Kelly, T.B. $3,636,333; Terence Newman, Dal. $3,601,237; Anthony Henry, Dal. $3,600,000.

SAFETIES: $4,109,000/$3,592,000

The top 10: Donovin Darius, Jack. $4,593,000; Darren Sharper, Minn. $4,150,000; Lawyer Milloy, Buff. $4,000,000; Sean Taylor, Wash. $3,971,250; TONY PARRISH, 49ERS, $3,830,833; Mike Minter, Car. $3,443,750; Troy Vincent, Buff. $3,350,000; Mike Brown, Chi. $3,056,666; Marcus Coleman, Hou. $2,783,433; Adrian Wilson, Ariz. $2,739,499.


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