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Franchise tenders shrink under new CBA

Tightening-belt-001 Getty Images

On Monday, the window for applying the franchise tag opens.  And when the tags start to fly, a few expletives will, too.

The base franchise tenders generally will drop in 2012.  But not necessarily because the average pay for the five highest-paid players at the various positions decreased in 2011.  The franchise tenders will decrease because the new CBA includes a different way of calculating the amounts.

(Yes, others have previously written about this.  It’s contained in the new CBA, plain as day.  But instead of wasting your time and ours with the issue during football season, when no one really cared about the franchise tags, we decided to hold it until it was truly relevant.  With franchise-tag season opening tomorrow, it now is.)

Under Article 9, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA, the franchise tender for each position arises from a formula that takes the value of franchise tags for the last five years, adds them up, divides them by the total value of the salary cap for the last five years, and multiplies the resulting percentage by the salary cap for the current year.  (Since there was no salary cap in 2010, the number to be used will be the average of the salary cap in 2009 and 2011.)

What it means is that the numbers will drop this year.  In November, NFL.com posted the estimated numbers.

For quarterbacks, the 2012 tender will be $14.4 million.  It was $16.1 million in 2011.

For running backs, the 2012 tender will be $7.7 million.  It was $9.6 million in 2011.

For receivers, it will be $9.6 million, down from $11.4 million.

For tight ends, the number drops from $7.3 million to $5.4 million.

For offensive linemen (yes, they’re all jumbled together regardless of whether they play center, guard, or tackle), the franchise tender falls from $10.1 million to $9.4 million.

For defensive ends, the $13 million franchise tender in 2011 becomes $10.6 million in 2011.

For defensive tackles, the franchise tender will be $7.9 million, down from $12.5 million the prior year.

For linebackers, the number moves from $10.1 million in 2011 to $8.8 million in 2012.

For cornerbacks, the tender falls from $13.5 million to $10.6 million.

For safeties, the new number is $6.2 million; last year it was $8.8 million.

Though the NFL.com item ignored the kicker/punter number, it appears that the amount was $3.25 million in 2011.  Multiple reports regarding kickers who may be franchised this year have pegged it in the range of $2.5 million.

The new CBA retains the provision requiring the player’s franchise tender to be 120 percent of his cap number for the prior year, if that amount is greater than the base tender.  That’s why it would cost the Texans more than $20 million to keep Mario Williams for one more year, and why the Chargers would be shelling out north of $13 million for another season with Vincent Jackson.

For most potential franchise players, the base rate applies.  And the base rate will be a lot lower with a new CBA than it was when the tags were used last year, at a time when the last CBA was only days away from disappearing.

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11 Responses to “Franchise tenders shrink under new CBA”
  1. brasho says: Feb 19, 2012 7:56 AM

    And for those of you that think Trent Richardson will be a top 5 pick, you can use the numbers above as proof that he won’t. The RB situation does not nearly have the same financial value (or importance) of many of the other positions. Only safeties and tight ends hold less value in the draft and in free agency as running backs. Richardson shouldn’t sniff the top 5.

  2. msclemons67 says: Feb 19, 2012 8:13 AM

    Wow. DeMaurice Smith got snookered on another aspect of the CBA.

    Isn’t he a lawyer? You’d think he’d have noticed these details.

  3. tombrookshire says: Feb 19, 2012 8:18 AM

    I guess all the sleight of hand with the salary cap was the only way they could “justify” giving the players about 2 mill less and getting them to buy in. Shameful in a league worth 9 billion dollars and growing, against the risk that players take with their bodies. They are truly like gladiators.

  4. canetic says: Feb 19, 2012 8:33 AM

    If you think the Bucs won’t draft a player at #5 that would be cheaper than any other player to keep then you are crazy.

  5. sportsmeccabi says: Feb 19, 2012 8:41 AM

    Yeah, and I but Arizona is just loving the fact they have Levi Brown instead of Adrian Peterson. Lesson is: if there is an elite player available with you pick, regardless of position, take him.

  6. champguy81 says: Feb 19, 2012 8:59 AM

    So , is the “top 5 players’ average salary” calculation gone for good? If so, that seems to imply that the future FP amounts will eventually level off to a certain amount, even if salaries continue to skyrocket. I don’t think the players will like that. They might not realize it for a few years, but when the top players are routinely getting $20-30 million (by about 2017-2020), and the franchise tags are still sitting at ~15 mil….

    This new method will certainly change the FP dynamics a lot.

  7. mclovin07 says: Feb 19, 2012 9:29 AM

    As good as Jared Allen is, the Vikes should consider moving him NOW. He’ll be 30 this coming season, and his trade value will never be higher. Plus looking at this, he’s actually overpaid..guys after 30 tend to decline so now is the time to rape someone for his services!

  8. thegonz13 says: Feb 19, 2012 9:45 AM

    @mclovin… Jared Allen is the only good defensive player we have, along with Kevin Williams. Trading him would be a huge mistake because no one else would or could pick up the slack.

  9. micronin127 says: Feb 19, 2012 11:43 AM

    Increases in franchise tenders will be tied to increases in the overall salary cap. With the new TV deals and the 10 year agreement you can expect the cap to roughly double by 2021 and so will the franchise tenders.

    The next few years will be flat to down until the TV money kicks in.

  10. tommyf15 says: Feb 19, 2012 11:57 AM

    msclemons67 says: Wow. DeMaurice Smith got snookered on another aspect of the CBA. Isn’t he a lawyer? You’d think he’d have noticed these details.

    You’re missing the larger picture.

    While I personally don’t agree with the franchise tag, the fact remains that for every dollar saved by franchising a player goes to other players by way of revenue sharing.

    The owners have to spend a certain amount on all players combined, which seemed to have been Smith’s focus.

  11. dalucks says: Feb 22, 2012 12:59 PM

    Great explanation of the franchise numbers.

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