As discussion has turned to free agents, the issue of the franchise tag has come into play. Great free agents haven't come along that often because of the ability of teams to simply tag them as franchise or transitional players. With the franchise tag, a player gets the average of the top 5 salaries at his position, while the team gets another year of his services while trying to negotiate a long-term deal.
Yesterday, ESPN.com football writer Len Pasquarelli had an interesting column on the issue of the franchise tag. The franchise numbers were released last week and most teams aren't particular concerned at how they're getting because the number of franchised players has gone down in the last few years. Of course, Pasquarelli mentions that only a handful of players will merit consideration for the franchise tag including Asante Samuel and Lance Briggs, two guys the 49ers will probably look into signing.
The deadline to place a franchise tag is February 22, a week from this coming Thursday. The franchise numbers are certainly of interest since it can have a big affect on a team's cap. Some of the positions of interest to the 49ers:
DT: $6.775 million
DE: $8.664 million
LB: $7.206 million
CB: $7.79 million
S: $4.49 million
OL: $9.556 million
Those are certainly numbers that might give a team reason to reconsider the franchise tag. At least we hope so when it comes to a Nate Clement, Asante Samuel or Adalius Thomas. Some are less likely to be franchised than others, but we'll see how it plays out.