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The NFL's franchise tag and the 49ers

First off, thanks to rlott#42 for posting this link earlier yesterday.  In what has become a yearly tradition, an NFL player is pissed off that they're likely to be slapped with the franchise tag by their current team.  This time around it's nose tackle Vince Wilfork.  The money quote that might make some sense, but won't win him many fans:

"[The franchise tag] is decent money for most people out there. What I do, it's OK," Wilfork said. "But I don't look at myself as an OK player. Like I said, it's just basically a slap in my face and an insult to me to basically tell me I'm an OK player."

Whatever your thoughts on the insanity of complaining about that kind of money, it definitely angers some players more than others.  Here's a solid list of the the franchised players over the last three seasons.  The 49ers have had their own experience, although not too recently.  In 2005 the 49ers franchised LB Julian Peterson.  He was not exactly pleased with the situation, but he signed his one-year franchise tender and came to camp.  If you go through the list above, you can probably find at least one player each year who held out at least a little bit.

This is a big issue once again for the 49ers, as there is a fairly good chance they'll be slapping the franchise tag on Aubrayo Franklin.  The timeline for franchise tags is the first couple weeks of February, I believe right after the Super Bowl.  If a new CBA isn't reached, a team can designate a franchise player AND a transition player, or two transition players.  A transition player involves smaller one year tenders, and less draft pick compensation.  For the purposes of this, we'll simply discuss franchise players.  Given that the time to tag a player is fast approaching, a few definitions are probably in order (based on the existing rules from the last CBA).

After the jump we've got some definitions and some thoughts.

Exclusive franchise player: Player is offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position at the end of the restricted free agent signing period, or a 20 percent increase over his 2008 salary, or the average of the top five salaries at his position at the end of last season -- whichever of the three is greater. The offering club retains exclusive negotiating rights and other clubs cannot negotiate with exclusive franchise players.

Non-exclusive franchise player: Player is offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at his position in the 2008 season, or a 20 percent salary increase, whichever is greater. The offering club does not hold exclusive negotiating rights, and the player can negotiate with other clubs. The original club may match any offer to retain the player, or receive two first-round draft choices as compensation if it elects not to match. The signing period for non-exclusive franchise players is from Feb. 27 through July 15. Clubs have until July 15 to sign franchise players to a multi-year contract or extension. After this date the player may only sign a one-year tender for the next season.

I'd imagine the 49ers will use the non-exclusive tag since two first round picks would be pretty sweet, even if it meant losing Franklin.  In rlott#42's FanShot there was some discussion about letting Franklin walk and signing Wilfork to the big-time extension.  At the same time, in a post yesterday, Barrows mentioned that this draft was rather deep with interior linemen.

Since you've got Franklin under control for the most part, what do you do?  He played tremendously well in 2009, building on a solid 2008 season.  It doesn't appear as though Franklin has complained all that much about potentially being franchised, so it comes down to general business and football ops sense.  Thoughts?