Why The 49ers Will Likely Avoid Using Franchise Tag And Transition Tag In 2015


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.

Yesterday was the first day that tags can be placed on players and runs through March 2.

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 2015 franchise-tag amounts according to NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

Quarterbacks: $18.51 million
Running backs: $10.93 million
Wide receivers: $12.80 million
Tight ends: $8.33 million
Offensive linemen: $12.93 million
Defensive tackle: $11.17 million
Defensive ends: $14.78 million
Linebackers: $13.17 million
Cornerbacks: $13.05 million
Safeties: $9.60 million
Kickers/Punters: $4.12 million


Sure the 49ers should bring back WR Michael Crabtree and RB Frank Gore but not at the expense of breaking the bank. Crabtree is nowhere near being a franchise player while Gore is not worth $10 plus million per season or even $8.5 million for that matter, if they slap the transition tag.



Then there is three-time Pro Bowl G Mike Iupati. As good as Iupati has been in the run-game, I think it would be wise for the 49ers to avoid the franchise tag on him as well. If you notice the numbers above, all offensive lineman are bunched into one group which includes left tackles. There is no separate designation for guards and as a result the reason why GM Trent Baalke will likely go with cheaper alternative second-year G Brandon Thomas.

If Iupati wants to remain a Niner he will need to take a hometown discount. Something I don’t see him doing considering he has been named to the Pro Bowl the last three seasons.



With other teams likely franchising their own such as the Dallas Cowboys with WR Dez Bryant and Denver Broncos with WR Demaryius Thomas, do not anticipate the 49ers doing the same as Baalke has only used the franchise tag twice during his tenure, one in 2010 with NT Aubrayo Franklin and in 2012 with FS Dashon Goldson.

Ryan is the Founder/CEO of NinerFans.com, 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 ryan@NinerFans.com or call him at (408) 622-0996.