Pushing franchise tag decision to deadline makes sense for Chiefs

Posted Mar 4, 2012

Most predict WR Dwayne Bowe will receive the franchise tag

It comes as no surprise that Monday’s 3:00 PM (CST) franchise tag deadline is closing in with the Chiefs yet to act. Hurrying to designate a franchise player offers no advantage to the team.

The assumption for months has been that Kansas City will place the franchise tag on either WR Dwayne Bowe or CB Brandon Carr, who are both set to become unrestricted free agents on March 13th. When the Chiefs signed free agent CB Stanford Routt last month, Bowe became the overwhelming favorite to receive the tag.

But tagging Bowe isn’t a lock. Signing the Pro Bowler to a long-term contract extension in advance of Monday’s deadline would tilt the balance of Kansas City’s free agent situation heading into 2012.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli reiterated at the NFL Scouting Combine that the team would like to keep both Bowe and Carr in Kansas City. Securing a long-term deal with Bowe before Monday’s deadline would allow the Chiefs to use the franchise tag on another player, presumably Carr.

If that were to occur, the chatter surrounding free agency would shift from its current state.

Would the team seek a trade partner for a tagged Carr? Would long-term contract talks with Carr continue? It’s all tough to decipher with the relative silence of all parties during contract discussions.

In the meantime, this is what we know.

Designating Bowe as the franchise player would cost around $9.4 million in 2012. Tagging Carr would run the team about $10.6 million. The Chiefs can’t tag both players. Teams are permitted just one franchise or transition tag each season under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

For those who’ve inquired about QB Kyle Orton being a franchise tag possibility, it would cost about $14.4 million for a one-year deal. Unlikely.

Once the Chiefs tag a player, two options exist. The team may choose to use either an “exclusive” or a “non-exclusive” tag.

The “exclusive” franchise tag means that the player is restricted from negotiating with any other club. His rights are secure.

Exclusive tags amount to a one-year contract equal to an amount no less than the average of the top-five salaries at that player’s position over the last five seasons. If a player earned more than that average the previous season, his one-year contract would be worth 120% of his previous salary.

A “non-exclusive” tag gives the franchised player freedom to negotiated deals with other clubs once free agency begins on March 13th. The Chiefs would reserve the right to match any offer from another club or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation. Once the franchised player signs his one-year tender, he’s restricted from negotiating with other clubs.

Using the “non-exclusive” franchise tag guarantees the player the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position over the last five seasons, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.

The Chiefs used the “non-exclusive” franchise tag on OLB Tamba Hali last season. Hali would eventually agree to a long-term contract extension prior to the start of the regular season.

It’s not uncommon to see a franchised player go on and agree to a long-term contract with his current club.

Six players in Chiefs history have received the franchise tag and all but one eventually agreed to a long-term deal that kept them in Kansas City.

Even DE Dan Williams, who sat out the entire 1998 season after receiving the franchise tag, eventually agreed to a new contract with the team. The lone exception was DE Jared Allen, who was traded to the Vikings shortly after receiving the franchise tag in 2008.

All-Time Franchise Players: Kansas City Chiefs

DE Neil Smith, 1993

DE Dan Williams, 1998

G Will Shields, 2000

TE Tony Gonzalez, 2002

DE Jared Allen, 2008

OLB Tamba Hali, 2011

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