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2010 Franchise Deadline Passes in the NFL by Lloyd Vance


New England Patriots mammoth NT Vince Wilfork was one of six NFL players  tagged as a “franchise” player at the 2010 franchise player deadline

Thursday February 25th at 4 PM was the last chance for NFL teams to “franchise” tag their potential free agents for the 2010 NFL season.  The franchise tag allows for a team to limit a potential free agent’s movements under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This year teams were allowed to use one franchise tag and two transition tags (average of Top 10 position salaries and first refusal for a player’s designating team) before the start of the Free Agency signing period (March 5th).

The salary level offered by the designating team determines whether the player is an Exclusive or Non-Exclusive franchise player.  Franchised players are paid at the highest level of their position (average of the top-five salaries at their position).  An “exclusive” franchise player is not free to sign with another team, while a “non-exclusive” franchise player can negotiate with the other teams, but the franchising club has a right to match or receive compensation.

Last year there was an NFL-high 14 free agents that were designated as “franchise” players, which eclipsed the former high of eleven from 2005 and 2008. But with CBA negotiations on-going and potential labor unrest lurking in the form of a 2011 lockout, teams seemed very cautious at placing franchise or transition tags on players this offseason.

Usually most teams use the franchise tag as a way to initiate talks for a long-term contract.  But sometimes “franchise” players and their agents are extremely unhappy and can cause distractions due to the loss of “upfront” signing bonus money (guaranteed $$$).  Though franchised players will be paid at the average of the top-five salaries at their position, players typically want the big payday that comes with being a marquee free agent.  In the past, we have seen franchised players miss off season training activities (OTA’s) and report late or holdout of training camp (ex. Seattle Seahawks Offensive Tackle Walter Jones in 2004 & 2005).

The player most likely to follow in the disgruntled “I am not reporting” pattern is New England Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.  The former Pro Bowl fire hydrant nose tackle either wanted a long term deal or an opportunity to shop around his much sought after skills.  Unfortunately for the former University of Miami star, the Patriots understood his value and were more than willing to pay Wilfork’s franchise amount of a $7.003 million salary for 2010.

The next big milestone for franchised players is in July 2010 since that is the last chance for franchising teams to sign them to a long term deal.  If no long term deal is struck by July, the franchised player can only play under their one-year franchise contract for the 2010 season.

Here are the anticipated salaries for players tagged with either a franchise or transition tag.  Quarterbacks: $16.405 million (franchise), $14.546 million (transition); Defensive Ends: $12.398m, $10.193m; Offensive Lineman: $10.731m, $9.142m; Linebackers: $9.680m, $8.373m; Cornerbacks: $9.566m, $8.056m; Wide Receivers: $9.521m, $8.651m; Running Backs: $8.156m, $7.151m; Defensive Tackles: $7.003m, $6.353m; Safeties: $6.455m, $6.011m; Tight Ends: $5.908m, $5.248m; and Kickers/Punters: $2.814m, $2.629m

2010 Franchise Designated Players

San Francisco 49ers NT Aubrayo Franklin

Seattle Seahawks kicker Olindo Mare

Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Jeff Reed

Green Bay Packers DT Ryan Pickett

Oakland Raiders DE Richard Seymour (exclusive – not free to sign w/ another team)

New England Patriots NT Vince Wilfork

There were no “transition” players designated.  However the real fun will start on March 5th as free agents like safety Darren Sharper, DE Julius Peppers, LB Karlos Dansby, CB Dunta Robinson and others hit the open market.

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

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