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Who are Candidates for Chargers' Franchise/Transition Tags?

The big news around the NFL on Tuesday was the opening of the two-week window in which teams can franchise or transition tag players.

While these tags receive a lot of buzz, the truth is they are seldom used. 

Last year, only six teams used a tag including the Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant), Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas), Kansas City Chiefs (Justin Houston), Miami Dolphins (Charles Clay – transition), New England Patriots (Stephen Gostkowski)  and New York Giants ( Jason Pierre-Paul).

In fact, the San Diego Chargers have only used the franchise tag six times in team history:

1993       Leslie O'Neal
1997       Tony Martin
2000       Norman Hand
2005       Drew Brees
2009       Darren Sproles
2011       Vincent Jackson

Meanwhile, they have used the transition tag on three occasions:

1993       Ronnie Harmon
1993       Harry Swayne
1994       Anthony Miller

So what exactly are franchise and transition tags?

Per the NFL, teams can designate a player with the exclusive franchise tag, non-exclusive franchise tag or transition tag, but are limited to only one per year.

The franchise tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position, or 120 percent of the player's previous salary, whichever is greater. A team who uses the exclusive tag has all negotiating rights to the player.  If a team uses the non-exclusive tag, a player can negotiate with other teams, but his previous organization has the right to match any offer or receive two first-round picks as compensation.

The transition tag is a one-year tender offer to a player for an amount that is the average of the top 10 salaries at the position. It guarantees the original club the right of first refusal to match any offer the player may receive from another team. 

As such, there are 15 unrestricted free agents that the Bolts could choose to tag if they so desired, including Joe Barksdale, Kellen Clemens, Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, Chris Hairston, David Johnson,  Jeff Linkenbach, Ricardo Mathews, Joe Mays, John Phillips, Kendall Reyes, Patrick Robinson, Cassius Vaughn, J.D. Walton and Eric Weddle.

Earlier in the week, NFL.com released estimations for what the franchise and transition tags would cost for each position based on their projection for the 2016 salary cap. Transition tags are in parentheses:

Quarterback: $19.6 million ($17.5 million)

Defensive end: $15.4 million ($12.5 million)

Wide Receiver: $14.4 million ($12.0 million)

Linebacker: $14.0 million ($11.7 million)

Cornerback: $13.7 million ($11.7 million)

Offensive line: $13.5 million ($11.7 million)

Defensive tackle: $13.4 million ($10.7 million)

Running back: $11.5 million ($9.5 million)

Safety: $10.6 million ($9.0 million)

Tight End: $9.0 million ($7.6 million)

Kicker/Punter: $4.5 million ($4.0 million)

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