The 49ers now have a good idea of what it would cost to place the franchise tag on defensive lineman Arik Armstead.
Here’s a hint: It won’t be cheap.
Armstead is enjoying his breakout season along the 49ers’ defensive line. After registering nine sacks over his first four NFL seasons, Armstead this season has compiled a team-leading 10 sacks in 13 games.
The 49ers picked up the fifth-year option a year ago and are paying him $9.046 million this season. But his price tag will rise significantly next season.
Joel Corry, a former NFL player agent and current salary-cap expert for CBSSports.com, projects the franchise tag for defensive ends to be $17.95 million for the 2020 season.
A player qualifies at a specific position based on where he played more snaps. Armstead has played more snaps at defensive end than defensive tackle, according to Pro Football Focus.
As much as the 49ers would like to retain Armstead, the team also wants to save as much cap space as possible to be able to sign such players as DeForest Buckner and George Kittle to multi-year contract extensions in the near future.
Buckner is expected to receive approximately $14 million in salary next season on the fifth-year option. Kittle is in line for a big new contract when his deal is up after the 2020 season.
NFL teams were informed at a league meeting this week that the 2020 salary cap is projected to jump from $196.8 million to $201.2 million. Corry came up with his numbers for the franchise and transition tags based on a projection of $200 million for the 2020 salary cap.
In 2020, teams are allowed to use both the franchise and transition tags on players scheduled to be free agents in the spring, Corry explains.
The non-exclusive franchise tag means that another team can sign a tagged player to a contract, but the original team has five days to match the contract terms. If that team does not match, it would receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. The exclusive franchise tag comes at a higher salary and prevents other teams from negotiating with the player.
A transition tag gives the incumbent team only the right to match a contract. There is no compensation for a team that chooses not to match an offer sheet for a player who is tagged as a transition player.
Teams are allowed to name their franchise and transition players beginning Feb. 25 through March 10.