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Wells Could Be Possibility for Transition Tag

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Wells Could Be Possibility for Transition Tag

From all appearances, Packers center Scott Wells wants to reach free agency and let the open market determine his value.

All things being equal, he'd probably be happy to return to the Packers, but Wells and his agent, Brian Parker, are not going to be lowballed by any offers.

Before Wells gets away willy nilly in free agency, however, general manager Ted Thompson has one option available to him that might persuade Wells to lower his demands: the transition tag.

So why would the Packers consider placing the transition tag on Wells? Let's take a look...

The franchise tag pays players an average of the top five players at their position over the average of the past five years. The NFL does not break up offensive linemen by position such as tackle, guard and center. Therefore, the franchise tag number for offensive linemen is quite high when taking into account the big contracts paid to left tackles.

The franchise tag figure for offensive linemen in 2012 is projected to be in the neighborhood of $9.4 million, which is quite high and rather unreasonable for a center.

According to Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the NFL's highest-paid centers are Carolina's Ryan Kalil at $8.2 million, followed by the Jets’ Nick Mangold at $7.7 million and St. Louis’ Jason Brown at $7.5 million.

The transition tag, meanwhile, pays players an average of the top 10 players at their position over an average of the past five years. That figure for offensive linemen is estimated to be around $8.4 million, a more reasonable amount though still quite high for a center.

The risk of offering Wells the transition tag tender is that he just might sign it, and the Packers would automatically be on the hook for the $8.4 million. That, in turn, could limit their ability to sign their other free agents like Jarrett Bush, Ryan Grant and any others they might consider re-signing.

But would it really be all that bad of a scenario if Wells accepted the transition tag for one year? It would make him the highest paid center in the entire league (again, for one year), but to be fair, he has played like one of the best centers in the league the past three seasons.

If such a scenario were to happen, the Packers and Wells would be in the same boat a year from now, with Wells a free agent once again in 2013. The plus side is that one year's time could allow the Packers to possibly develop a rookie with the hopes that he could replace Wells down the road.

There's also the possibility that the threat of the transition tag could prompt Wells to lower his asking price and settle on a more reasonable long-term contract.

After all, there's risk involved in Wells playing under a one-year deal at 31 years old. What if he doesn't play as well in 2012 as he did the past couple seasons? Or what if he gets injured?

This year might be the only opportunity for Wells to cash in on a big contract, but it's possible the Packers would consider playing this one card they've been hiding up their sleeve in a last-ditch effort to sign him to a manageable contract extension.

Of course, Wells doesn't have to immediately sign his tender either. He's allowed to sign with another team, but under the rules of the transition tag, the Packers have one week to match any offer he might get.

If the Packers find the contract he signs to be affordable, they could choose to match it.

On the other hand, if it is more than they are willing to pay, the Packer would have to watch Wells walk away. But is that really any different than letting him go to free agency as an unrestricted free agent? At least with the transition tag, the Packers have the right to match any offer he receives.

Like placing the franchise tag on Matt Flynn, this idea might not come to fruition, but it's not out of the question either.

And it's worth mentioning that the Packers can either place the franchise tag on Flynn or the transition tag on Wells, but not both.

The deadline to place either the franchise or transition tag on any player is Monday Mar. 5.

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

NoWayJose's picture

$8.4 still seems very steep, even for just one year.

It would (will) be very interesting to see what the FA market produces for Wells. Which teams exactly are looking to pay a center approximately $7M a year? (Wells asking price currently). I'm sure teams have holes at center, but is that where they want to spend their money?

I'm not so sure that Wells is going to get any offers at the number he is seeking. It's just not a position that gets GMs hot to spend money in FA.

eVade's picture

I just can't see them adding 8.5M on one body this year with a cap that's still to be announced and may wind up going down. I've been thinking the Packers would offer Scott something in the range of 4 to 5M over 3 years with 7M guaranteed (then again I was wrong on Finley, thinking a 3 year deal might be in the works there too).

Wells seems to think he can get more and none of us should blame him if he does. Colledge got 5.5M per year (10M guaranteed) from the Cardinals which tends to engender some 'why not me?' kind of feelings, especially if you think you've been a better player and you are looking for that last pay day to set up your family for life.

lars's picture

Why not? Finley has a high cap #. He got $15 million over two years and nobody blinked.

jmac34's picture

I still think 8.4 is still way too much for Wells

lars's picture

He's the top rated FA center this year and the anchor of the Packer line. And, the Packers don't exactly have any replacement currently on the roster even close to his ability. If fact, only EDS has played any center and then only a few games. Pay the man, TT.

packeraaron's picture

<em>He’s the top rated FA center this year </em>

No, that would be the Texans' Myers.

I agree TT should pay Scott - but I'll understand if he doesn't.

FITZCORE1252&#039;s EVO's picture

I read something that said Packer brass was inquiring about Meyers in Indy. Aren't he and Scott essentially the same age? Seems odd if we were to pick up Meyers and let Scott walk... Scott already knowing the system, fellow lineman, being the same age. No?

Mark's picture

Myers would be around 4-5 mil around 3 mil cheaper than where Wells wants to be paid.

Mojo's picture

For God-sake TT, tag somebody.

Rocky70's picture

Wells won't get tagged. He'll be allowed to check-out the free-agent waters. Unfortunately, I'm think'in he's going to be disappointed. The open market will tell him that he's not worth the money he is seeking. Then the question becomes ----- After he receives a 'reasonable offer' from another team, will he come back to GB to match? ------ Will GB even want to match (at that time)? ------ Wells needs to be careful. He may find himself finishing off his career &amp; never seeing the playoffs again for a minimal monetary gain (from some other team).

redlights's picture

Just don't see a tag on Wells.

Look ahead to the players entering their last contract year: Jennings and Lang.

The next year: Rodgers, Raji, CMIII, M. Burnett, Starks, J.Jones(meh), Pickett(age), M. Newhouse, Collins (if he returns), and others.

With the salary cap being limited this year, I don't see many teams paying $7-8 million for a center. I say to TT, use your judgement, but its okay with me if you let him test the market, and even get away if a team wants him that much. As for our line; EDS or move Lang to center or draft one, our line can handle it.

lars's picture

Funny how nobody complained when AJ Hawk, a total stiff, got his $10 million bonus last year. But, somehow Green Bay's best OLineman two years in a row according to MM is chopped liver.

zeke's picture

I remember a lot of comments about whether Hawk was worth the money last year (and he clearly wasn't). But as much as I agree that Wells has been the top o-lineman the past several years I don't think he's being treated as chopped liver. TT wouldn't be negotiating with him at all and would just let him walk if he thought he was worthless. It seems to be a difference in opinion over how much he's worth at his age, the salary cap structure, and the options available to replace him (most everything I've seen suggests he is either the second or third best center available in FA). Bottom line for Wells is that being offered 5 million a year when you think you are worth 7.5 is a good problem to have, and I don't think it equates to a lack of respect.

cole's picture

You have to remember, at the time, we had no one behind Hawk. Francois was a complete unknown. No DJ Smith yet. And Barnett was heading out no matter what.

Lars's picture

At any rate, good idea. Brian's the first to broach the subject of the Transition tag. Once the Flynn franchise tag fantasy finally ends at 4:00 p.m. Monday, all eyes will turn to Wells and to a lesser extent Bush and Grant for the next 7 days.

Not saying they'd do it, but the Packers can find the $8 million+ for Wells in 2012.

If not, EDS will have to step up because Thompson is fooling nobody with his faux flirtations with the Houston center.:)

FITZCORE1252&#039;s EVO's picture

Question:
If a team slaps a transition on a guy and that team matches an outside teams offer, does the player get to choose which team he wants to go to? If both offers are equal. Or does he have to stay with the old team?

Brian Carriveau's picture

Has to stay with the old team.

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