NFL teams have until Thursday to place franchise tag

By PA SportsTicker

Five prominent defensive players have already been slapped with franchise tags. The Super Bowl teams accounted for nearly half of that total.

NFL teams have until Thursday to designate eligible free agents as franchise or transition players.

The Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts designated defensive end Dwight Freeney as their franchise player. Less than three weeks ago, the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI in Miami.

The Bears were the first team to use the franchise tag, placing it on linebacker Lance Briggs.

Players that are named as franchise players automatically get tendered the average salary of the top five players at their position or 20 percent above their previous salary, whichever is greater. A transition player gets the average of the top 10 salaries at his position.

Freeney automatically receives a one-year tender worth $8.64 million, the average salary of the top five players at his position.

The same applies for defensive ends Justin Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals and Charles Grant of the New Orleans Saints. Both were designated as franchise players.

Briggs automatically gets a one-year tender worth $7.2 million, the average salary of the top five players at his position.

The New England Patriots put the franchise tag on cornerback Asante Samuel, entitling him to a one-year offer worth $7.79 million.

The franchise tag entitles a team to the right of first refusal and two first-round picks as compensation. The transition tag carries no compensation if the player signs elsewhere.

Linebackers Adalius Thomas of the Baltimore Ravens and London Fletcher-Baker of the Buffalo Bills are other eligible free agents who can get slapped with the franchise tag.

The free agent period begins on March 2.


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Updated Wednesday, Feb 21, 2007