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Whatever happened to the transition tag?

Hutch Getty Images

As we close in on the annual deadline for applying the franchise tag, many of you are asking why we never mention the transition tag.

OK, some of you.  Actually, a few of you.

Maybe it was just one of you.  And by “one of you” I technically mean me.

The transition tag has become forgotten in recent years because in recent years it largely has been unused.  As of 2007, when the transition tag became fully guaranteed if/when signed by the player, most teams abandoned it.

Perhaps the most notorious use of the transition tag came in 2006, when the Seahawks applied it to All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson — and the Vikings pounced on the opportunity to snare Hutchinson via a poison-pill offer sheet containing features that would have made the entire seven-year, $49 million deal fully guaranteed if matched by Seattle.

The tag gives only the right to match an offer from another team, with no compensation if the current team chooses not to keep the player.  And the one-year financial commitment remains significant, coming from the average of the 10 highest-paid players at the position.  (The franchise tag focuses only on the top five.)  For most teams, the guaranteed nature of the transition tag as of 2007 was enough to push teams to simply use the franchise tag.

So while the transition tag remains available as an alternative to the franchise tag, it would be a surprise if any team uses it, now or in the future.

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18 Responses to “Whatever happened to the transition tag?”
  1. thevikesarebest says: Feb 28, 2014 7:41 AM

    I bet most packer free agents pray they don’t get franchise tagged.The vikings free agents beg to come back.if we want them back,they will stay.SKOL

  2. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 28, 2014 8:30 AM

    Only the Vikings would pay a guard $40 million…probably like $70 million in today’s NFL. The guy was good, but a guard is not worth that much. The only problem Seattle had is they haven’t found a decent left guard to this day.

  3. The Great Ted Thompson the Genius says: Feb 28, 2014 9:09 AM

    Seahawks fans are still upset that Hutchinson preferred playing for the Vikings to the Seahawks. They’re still trying to make up for that by signing every former Viking player and coach they can, but most of them are terrible.

  4. vikings1976 says: Feb 28, 2014 9:19 AM

    The Vikings signing Brett Favre still has a ripple effect. There are 2-3 Packer fans who pose as Viking fans on this site daily. No matter what they say…it still burns. I love it.

  5. russellwilsonismymvp says: Feb 28, 2014 9:23 AM

    Preferred? They broke the bank for the guy. How far did that set them back salary cap wise? I for one was upset about it because he wasn’t worth it and it cost us a decent player. But let’s not act like he had a choice. Seattle either had to match a laughable contract or let him go.

  6. dennisatunity says: Feb 28, 2014 10:40 AM

    I’m remembering how angry Holmgren was that we let Hutchinson go. He was livid!

  7. bert1913 says: Feb 28, 2014 10:42 AM

    it should be called the tim ruskell tag. btw ruskell is working as a college scout now.

  8. stung4ever1983 says: Feb 28, 2014 11:05 AM

    “Seattle either had to match a laughable contract or let him go.”

    And they would have if not for the poison pill.

  9. brewdogg says: Feb 28, 2014 11:20 AM

    And do we all remember how the Seahawks responded? Do we remember that ridiculous Burleson contract? At least the Vikings had every intention (and did) pay him the full amount of the contract. The Seahawks gave Burleson a 4-year, $16 million contract with 3 more years for $33 million on the end (because they were really going to give him $11 million/year) to make it 7/$49 mil. And the pill in that one? If he played 4 or more games in the state of Minnesota it would be fully guaranteed. I guess it’s no surprise that the fans out there are as petty and childish as they are…..

  10. zinjaboy says: Feb 28, 2014 12:59 PM

    Packer fans don’t care that Favre went to Minnesota to die. We love it. It allowed another future hall of famer to develop on the mighty frozen tundra. We’re looking at a run of 20 years now of winning, championship football under the direction of 2 QB legends. 3 Super Bowl appearances and 2 SB championships. What have the Vikings done in the last 20 years to secure a Lombardi trophy? …. Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought.

  11. jazz11001 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:03 PM

    Hutch is no ordinary guard. He was the epitome of leadership, work ethic and hadn’t had a penalty in something like 5 years. Seattle is just P’d that they were made to look soo stupid when they were trying to get him for a discount. Sometime Da game come back N bite ya… Poison Pills for everyone after that!

  12. ejmat2 says: Feb 28, 2014 1:06 PM

    Both teams were wrong for doing what they did with the poison pills. However, the Vikings did what they had to in order to get a guy they wanted. He worked out pretty darn well for the Vikings while there.

    For the Seahawk fans complaining that a OL isn’t worth it, correct me if I’m wrong didn’t you have another Lineman making the same money at that time? I forget his name but he actually was making more than Hutch. I want to say Walter Jones but could be mistaken.

  13. thebirdofprey2 says: Feb 28, 2014 2:42 PM

    Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson may have been the best to line up beside each other. Sure maybe the best LT ever in football was getting well paid, he just was named First Ballot HOF this year.

    The GM at the time was Tim Ruskell who is probably hated more than Detriot fans hate Matt Millen. All those transactions Pete and John have done was all about undoing his work. Viking fans claiming Seattle trying to get payback two words – Derell Bevell – how about picking up offensive free agents that know the offensive system installed? The fresh smell of waking up and your team is a Super Bowl champ is splendid.

  14. belgaron says: Feb 28, 2014 3:50 PM

    This is only part of the story. The contract was actually written so that even if Seattle wanted to guarantee all $49M, they couldn’t because the contract called for him to be the highest paid on the team. Walter Jones made more so it was literally impossible to match that contract as it was written. So it is not accurate to just say that if Seattle matched, it would have been fully guaranteed because they literally could not match it as written.

    Minnesota wrote it so they could release him and they never paid the full contract. They released him in 2012 and saved $13M on their cap that year.

    The league should have stepped in and vetoed the contract when it was submitted but Tim Ruskell should have never made it a possibility. He could have either extended him a year earlier at a much more reasonable rate or he could have franchised him, Holmgren would have never use the Transition tag but it wasn’t his call.

  15. chikiboy says: Feb 28, 2014 4:06 PM

    If you are a “smart GM”, you pay big money to Left Tackles (ala Walter Jones), not to offensive Guards.

    I gave Ruskell a pass on the Hitchinson situation. What the Viking did was unprecedented at that time and it’s been well documented that the NFL reprimanded them behind closed doors.

    It was also widely reported that many teams thought the Viking front office was a joke during those times and that they privately spoke with Ruskell on how they thought the move the Vikings did was Bush League.

    That being said, I never thought the move made sense for the simple fact that AP is not the type of back that is disciplined and follows his blocks (nor does he need to). That being said, there was no need for an All Pro Guard, they were better off with solid-to-good guys across the board and would have been better served spending that money elsewhere.

    Granted, when Favre came, that changed things.

    Nonetheless, we have the Vikings to thank for playing a small but noticeable part in our Superbowl run this season.

    Thanks guys!

  16. filthymcnasty1 says: Feb 28, 2014 4:07 PM

    Purple Favre gave birth to the most famous moment in hapless and tasteless Viking history.

    “But why do you even ponder passing, I mean you can take a knee and try a 56 yard field goal. This is not Detroit man!!!! This is the Super Bowl!!!!”

    ~ Paul Allen, shrieking.

    Thanks, Bert!!!

  17. number1hawkfan says: Mar 1, 2014 4:52 AM

    Vikings fans are the worst. I’ll take everything the Seahawks have done and will do over the pathetic Vikings have done. I feel bad for anyone who is a fan of NFC north teams that have to listen to these weirdo Vikings fans all the time.

  18. stellarperformance says: Mar 1, 2014 5:31 AM

    The resentment any Packer fan feels for Favre has nothing to do with him playing for the Vikings. Please. There is no credit due.

    He orchestrated his own departure by faking his retirement in order to gain an unconditional release so he could go to the team of his choice (any team) that would give him his last best chance to win a SuperBowl, all at the expense of his teammates, fans, organization, and community.

    I don’t care how good he was. Benedict Arnold was a good military leader too (look it up.)

    Played for the Vikings? Who cares?

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