Sakamoto: Why 49ers Will Likely Avoid Using Franchise And Transition Tags In 2016

USA Today Sports

USA Today Sports

With the NFL new league-year just less than a month away that doesn’t mean teams can’t start re-tooling their rosters, as all 32 NFL teams can start slapping franchise tags and transition tags to pending unrestricted free-agents.

Each NFL team is allocated two tags per league-year; franchise tag and transition tag and are mutually exclusive. Meaning if one team uses the franchise tag they can’t use the transition tag and vice-versa.

Getty Images

Getty Images

The tags are used as a medium in an effort to retain their current star players. If a player is slapped with a tag he would then have to play one year for his current team at the franchise/transition tag salary if no long-term contract deal is struck before July 15.

Yesterday was the first day that tags can be placed on players and runs through March 1.

There are three types of tag designations and are defined below:

  • Franchise Tag (exclusive): An “exclusive” franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player’s position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player’s previous year’s salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams.
  • Franchise Tag (non-exclusive): The only difference between an exclusive franchise player from a non-exclusive franchise player is that the non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams. However, if the player signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
  • Transition Tag: A transition player must be offered a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of the prior season at the player’s position or 120 percent of the player’s prior year’s salary, whichever is greater. A transition player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

Now that you understand the three types of designations, should the San Francisco 49ers use them? I would say absolutely not. Below is a breakdown of the projected 2016 franchise-tag amounts according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

Quarterbacks: $19.6 million
Running backs: $11.5 million
Wide receivers: $14.4 million
Tight ends: $9 million
Offensive linemen: $13.5 million
Defensive tackle: $13.4 million
Defensive ends: $15.4 million
Linebackers: $14 million
Cornerbacks: $13.7 million
Safeties: $10.6 million
Kickers/Punters: $4.5 million

Sure the 49ers should re-sign NT Ian Williams but not at the expense of breaking the bank as he’s not worth $13.4 million.

With the 49ers trying to rebuild through the draft, they will need to complement that talent with All-Pro veteran players, as many key holes are missing on both sides of the ball.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.