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On Wednesday Feb. 20th, 2008, the Green Bay Packers designated Defensive Tackle, Corey Williams as their franchise player. The 27 year old Williams comes off his best season ever, setting a personal record with 51 tackles (32 solo) and a career high tying seven sacks. Although I’m glad he is staying with the team as he is a crucial cog in the defensive line rotation, I do not think he is worthy of the Non-Exclusive Franchise tag he was given.
There are two types of franchise tags:
Exclusive Franchise Designation: The player must be offered a one year contract for an amount equal to or greater than the average of the top five salaries at his position as of April of the current year or 120% of his current salary. The player cannot negotiate with any other team.
Non-Exclusive Franchise Designation: The player must be offered a one year contract for an amount equal to or greater than the average of the top five salaries at his position as of April of the previous year or 120% of his current salary. The player retains the right to negotiate with any other team but his current team retains the right of first refusal. That means, if the player signs a contract with another NFL team, the original team has the right to match the offer. If the he original team refuses the offer, they are entitled to two first round draft picks as compensation.
The right of first refusal has led to some interesting “poison-pill” contracts. For example, back in 2006, Seattle Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings that included a provision that he had to be the highest paid offensive lineman on the team or the entire contract would be guaranteed ($49M over 7 years). This provision had no effect on the Vikings since Hutchinson would be the highest paid Viking lineman, but it did affect Seattle. The Seahawks had just signed Womack to a richer offer, therefore Hutchinson wouldn’t be the highest paid Seattle lineman and his contract would have to be guaranteed. Seattle had no choice but to refuse the Viking offer and let Hutchinson go. To match that offer would have decimated their salary cap.
In other news, the Packers have given recently contract-extended Tight End Donald Lee another vote of confidence. They have given eight year veteran Tight End Bubba Franks his outright release. Bubba has been slumping in recent seasons and has struggled with injury. His Packer career ends at 122 games played (including playoffs) with 268 rec for 2449 yards and 35 touchdowns. I hope he picks up somewhere but it isn’t likely as he has had a bad case of butterfingers for several years now.