Rates could affect who gets franchised

The speculation is that the top two Vikings that fit the franchise bill are Chad Greenway and Sidney Rice. The Vikings might not franchise either of them, but the increase at different positions is a significant factor.

The frenzy of signing franchise and transition players is going to hit in full force over the coming days and, like any business, the bottom line is a major concern. When budgeting for a team that may or may not have a salary cap, the cost of doing business will be a major concern.

When it comes to applying the franchise tag, the financial hit – based on the average of the top five salaries at that position – has differed greatly by position, which may factor in when teams make decisions about whether somebody is given the franchise tag or not.

Thanks in large part to Albert Haynesworth's monster $21 million bonus paid out in 2010, the price of franchising a defensive tackle skyrocketed 79 percent – from $7 million to $12.5 million. It makes the decision to franchise a defensive tackle much more difficult.

The franchise figure for two positions – quarterback and offensive lineman – actually dropped this year (if the next collective bargaining agreement holds true). Quarterback drops to $16 million from $16.4 (a 2.5 percent drop) and offensive line drops almost 6 percent (from $10.7 million in 2010 to $10.1 million this year).

The big winners? In the secondary. Cornerbacks will cost 46 percent more to franchise ($14 million from $9.6 million) and safeties will cost more than 35 percent ($8.8 million from $6.5) more. Tight ends will see almost a 25 percent bump ($7.3 million from $5.9 million). Wide receivers will claim a 19 percent increase ($11.3 million from $9.5 million) and running backs will cost about 17 percent more to franchise ($9.5 million from $8.15 million).

The Vikings have decisions to make as to who to franchise and who to place the transition tag on – if they opt to use them – but what may play in Chad Greenway's favor (if he wants the tag) is that the franchise tag for linebackers jumped just 3 percent – the smallest increase of any position.

It may not sound like much to fans, but, when you're dealing in millions of dollars, the difference between who gets franchised and who doesn't may come down to the going rate for his position – not the player who is viewed as the least expendable.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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