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Tight end or receiver? Franchise tender is a $4.5 million difference

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 01: Tight-end Jared Cook #89 of the Tennessee Titans runs with the ball as he is pursued by Glover Quin #29 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on January 1, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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We noted this week that if Jared Cook gets the franchise tag from the Titans, a dispute between the team and the player could be coming about whether he’s a tight end or a wide receiver. Now that we know the exact value of the franchise tender for each position, we see how potentially significant that dispute could be.

Albert Breer of NFL Network has posted the full list of franchise tender amounts, showing that for a wide receiver who gets the franchise tag, his tender is a one-year guaranteed salary of $10.54 million. But for a tight end who gets the franchise tag, the tender is $6.07 million. In many NFL offenses, the difference between a wide receiver and a tight end is a distinction on the roster that doesn’t make a lot of difference in what the player does on the field. But it can be a huge difference in pay -- a $4.5 million difference for a player who plays one season on the franchise tender.

Disputes about what position a player actually plays have cropped up before. Jermichael Finley and the Packers didn’t agree on what position Finley technically played, but they agreed on a two-year contract, making that dispute moot. In 2008, Terrell Suggs argued that he was a defensive end while the Ravens argued that he was a linebacker. Eventually the two sides agreed -- with the league office and the players’ union going along -- to split the difference between the two franchise tender amounts.

But at some point, an arbitrator might have to set a definitive standard about what distinguishes a tight end from a wide receiver, or a defensive end from an outside linebacker. It can be an expensive distinction.

Via Breer, here are the full franchise tender amounts:

Quarterback: $14.9 million

Defensive end: $11.18 million

Cornerback: $10.85 million

Wide receiver: $10.54 million

Offensive lineman: $9.83 million

Linebacker: $9.62 million

Defensive tackle: $8.45 million

Running back: $8.22 million

Safety: $6.9 million

Tight end: $6.07 million

Kicker/Punter: $2.98 million