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2014 NFL Free Agency Q&A: Part III - Franchise and Transition Players

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With the Saints needing to sign their franchise player Jimmy Graham to a long-term contract in order to make room for the free agency signing period, which starts tomorrow, we review franchise and transition player designations.

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One of the first things about which many fans speculate and debate every offseason is which players will be retained or released by teams, and where free agents could potentially land. But not everyone truly understands what is going on in regards to free agents, franchise tags, and the like.

This is the third of a four-part series intended to educate our fans about what exactly will be happening over the next several months, in regards to free agency. The included questions and answers are taken directly from an NFL release.

Q. What determines a Franchise Player?

A. The salary offer by a player's club determines what type of franchise player he is: exclusive or non-exclusive.

An "exclusive" Franchise Player - not free to sign with another club - is offered the greater of (i) the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on May 2; or (ii) the amount of the required tender for a non-exclusive franchise player, as explained below.

Article 10, Section 2(a)(i) of the CBA sets forth the methodology, known as the "Cap Percentage Average," for calculating the required tender for such a player:

The Nonexclusive Franchise Tender shall be a one year NFL Player Contract for (A) the average of the five largest Prior Year Salaries for players at the position . . . at which the Franchise Player participated in the most plays during the prior League Year, which average shall be calculated by: (1) summing the amounts of the Franchise Tags for players at that position for the five preceding League Years; (2) dividing the resulting amount by the sum of the Salary Caps for the five preceding League Years . . . ; and (3) multiplying the resulting percentage by the Salary Cap for the upcoming League Year . . . (the "Cap Percentage Average") . . . ; or (B) 120% of his Prior Year Salary, whichever is greater . . . .

If a club extends a required tender to a "non-exclusive" Franchise Player pursuant to this section, the player shall be permitted to negotiate a player contract with any club, except that draft choice compensation of two first-round draft selections shall be made in the event he signs with a new club.

Q. How many Franchise Players and Transition Players can a team designate each season?

A. A club can designate one "Franchise" Player or one "Transition" Player among its potential restricted or unrestricted
free agents.

Q. Can a club decide to withdraw its Franchise or Transition designations on a player?

A. Yes. A club can withdraw its Franchise or Transition designation, and the player then automatically becomes an unrestricted free agent, either immediately or when his contract expires.

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Restricted and Unrestricted Free Agents
Part III: Franchise and Transition Players
Next Up: Salary Caps