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2006 franchise and transition players


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2006 franchise and transition players

The following is the list of all the players designated as franchise or transition players leading up to Thursday's deadline (4 ET).

Franchise players must be offered the average of the top five salaries at their position or 20 percent over their 2005 salary. Franchise players (unless they are exclusive) can negotiate with other teams, but any team signing a franchise player would have to compensate the players' former team with a pair of first-round draft choices if the offer is not matched. If a player is named an "exclusive franchise" player, they can't talk to any other teams.

Transition players must be offered the average of the top 10 salaries at their position for the club to maintain rights of first refusal. There is no draft-pick compensation if a transition player ends up signing with another team.

Here are players that have been listed as franchise or transition players for 2006:

2006 franchise and transition players

Team Player Designation Tender

N.Y. Jets DE John Abraham Franchise $8.332 million

Detroit OT Jeff Backus Franchise $6.983 million

Buffalo CB Nate Clements Franchise $5.893 million

Seattle OG Steve Hutchinson Transition $6.391 million

Minnesota CB Brian Williams Transition $4.774 million

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What do you know about Jeff Backus? Does every player on the Lions automatically suck because they didn't have a winning season? Did every Redskin suck in Gibbs first year because they were 6-10?

No one around here likes his reporting but...

Detroit designates tackle as franchise player

Unable to reach a long-term extension with Jeff Backus, the Detroit Lions on Thursday applied the franchise designation to their standout left offensive tackle, ESPN.com has learned.

The move, which keeps the five-year veteran off the unrestricted free agent market, came after the two sides negotiated into Thursday morning, but could not resolve their financial differences. Lions general manager Matt Millen had indicated earlier in the week that the team would not hesitate to employ the franchise marker to retain Backus, the team's first-round pick in the 2001 draft.

Backus, 28, is the third player leaguewide, as of Thursday morning, to merit the franchise marker, joining New York Jets defensive end John Abraham and Buffalo Bills cornerback Nate Clements in that category. Teams have until Thursday at 4 p.m. (ET) to use the franchise or transition labels on players.

By using the franchise tag, the Lions severely limit Backus' potential mobility in free agency. It also means the team has made him a one-year qualifying offer of $6.983 million for 2006. If Backus opts to sign the one-year offer, that salary is guaranteed. The two sides can also negotiate a long-term contract.

A former University of Michigan star, Backus is arguably the top player on a suspect Lions blocking unit, one that will need to improve markedly under new assistant coach Larry Beightol for the Detroit offense to progress in 2006. Backus has never missed a game in his NFL career and has started in all 80 of his regular-season appearances.

Backus is considered a top-flight pass protector and that will be critical, with the Lions having signed former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz as offensive coordinator under first-year coach Rod Marinelli. Pass protection is a key in the Martz-designed offense, where quarterbacks are asked to hold the ball longer, and where they typically absorb plenty of hits.

Under Beightol, who favors a physical style of play, Backus probably will be asked to improve on his run-blocking skills.

The retention of Backus by the Lions further thins an already shallow offensive line pool in free agency. Had the Lions not used the franchise designation, Backus almost certainly would have been one of the most ardently pursued free agents in the market.

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Not much but what I do know is that his presence or lack thereof, won't change the fact that the Lions are terrible.

They could afford to lose him.

Come on. The NFL is so fluid each year that except for the bottom 5 teams, any team has a chance to make a run at the playoffs each year. You don't start building your team up by letting the anchor of your OL go.

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