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Franchise tenders shrink under new CBA


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, 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 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.