Source: 49ers may not use franchise tag

February 3, 2011, 6:25 pm
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Feb. 3, 2011MAIOCCO ARCHIVE49ERS PAGE 49ERS VIDEOMatt MaioccoCSNBayArea.comThe NFL has given all 32 teams the go-ahead to use the franchise tag as they have in past. But just because it's an option does not mean the 49ers are going to use it.Peter Rucco, NFL senior vice president and general counsel, told the Boston Globe teams can use franchise andor transition tags on players for a 14-day period, starting Feb. 10. There had been some question whether the franchise tag would be available this offseason because of the league's expiring collective bargaining agreement."The CBA hasn't expired, and the CBA has the right to franchise players, so we are telling clubs that you have the right to franchise players, and then depending on what the new agreement says, that will take into account," Rucco said.
The 49ers have 15 players scheduled for free agency, including six starters from a year ago.RELATED: Aubrayo Franklin stats splits game logs
The 49ers applied the franchise tag to nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin last offseason, in essence, locking him up on a one-year contract worth 7.003 million. The 49ers can use the franchise tag on Franklin again, but it would require a pay increase of at least 120-percent, placing his one-year salary at 8.4 million, or the new franchise number -- whichever is higher. (Mac's Football Blog places the number at a whopping 12.38 million.)One team source told Comcast SportsNet that the 49ers are reluctant to place the tag on Franklin a second year in a row. It is easy to see why.
Franklin's one-year salary at more than 12 million would make him the highest-paid player on the team -- ahead of Patrick Willis -- based on average salary.Willis signed a contract extension last offseason that pays him a 7.65 million average over seven years. Tight end Vernon Davis' extension, signed on the eve of the season opener, pays him 7.1 million average over six years.As important as Franklin is as the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, I don't see any way the 49ers use the franchise tag on him again. I think there's a much better chance the 49ers sign him to an extension. Under the current CBA that expires March 3 . . . The franchise tag is the average of the top five salaries at a given position from the previous season. When a team uses the franchise tag, it ensures it will receive two first-round picks as compensation if the player signs with another team.The seldom-used transition tag is the average of the top 10 salaries at a position. All the transition tag ensures is that the team that applied the tag gets the right of first refusal to match any contract. The team receives no compensation. Here are the other candidates for the 49ers' franchise tag:LB Manny Lawson: It's entirely possible new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will look at Lawson as a player he really wants back on the team. But the franchise tag for linebackers a year ago was 9.68 million. This year, that number is expected be around 10 million. The 49ers simply can't pay Lawson more than Willis.C David Baas: The 49ers targeted Baas as a player they want to sign to a contract extension. Getting a deal done with him makes a lot more sense than slapping the franchise tag on him. After all, offensive linemen are offensive linemen when it comes to the franchise tag. The franchise number last year was 10.7 million for offensive linemen, and that's way too much for a center.LB Takeo Spikes: He did a tremendous job for the 49ers last season. If the 49ers want him back, they'll get him back without devoting anywhere near the franchise number of approximately 10 million.S Dashon Goldson: As a four-year veteran, Goldson's fate has yet to be determined. The rules have yet to be set how much service is required to be an unrestricted free agent. If it takes five years (that's a good guess), then the 49ers can easily bring back Goldson as a restricted free agent without applying any kind of tag to him. Last year, the franchise tag for safeties was 6.455 million. If the 49ers are willing to give him that much, they should easily be able to sign him to a multi-year deal.QB Alex Smith: Coach Jim Harbaugh said he's excited to work with Smith. But, as a scheduled free agent, Smith gets to make the call on this one. And, of course, there's no chance the 49ers are going to slap Smith with the franchise tag. Last year, the franchise number for quarterbacks was 16.4 million.