ALEXANDER WANTS MONSTER DEAL
The early scuttlebutt coming out of Indy is that running back Shaun Alexander is looking for a contract with $22 million in guaranteed money and a total value of $80 million.
Sorry, Shaun, but it aint' gonna happen.
It would be the biggest running back contract in league history, eclipsing the contract signed in 2005 by Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson. L.T. received $20 million in guaranteed money as part of an eight-year, $60 million package.
The problem is that the market for free agent running backs -- especially those on the wrong side of age 25 -- doesn't support that kind of investment, even for a guy who was the league MVP and who broke the single-season touchdown record.
More than ever, running backs are regarded as fungible. Only a guy with truly rare skills, like a Barry Sanders or a Jim Brown-type talent, would be able to get the kind of deal that Alexander supposedly wants.
The Carolina Panthers might have caught wind of Alexander's financial expectations, since they unexpectedly applied the transition tag to running back DeShaun Foster on Thursday. Because the Panthers generally are expected to make a run at Alexander, having the right of first refusal as to Foster will give the Panthers some protection in the event that Alexander's price tag doesn't get a lot more reasonable.
And contrary to the wire report posted at NFL.com, Foster isn't automatically "guaranteed" $5.13 million for 2006. For transition players, the one-year tender only becomes guaranteed at the start of the regular season; until then, the team can remove the transition tag at any time, and instantly free up the cap room. Thus, if the Panthers are at some point close to striking a deal with Alexander, all they need to do is revoke the tag as to Foster, and they'll have an extra $5.13 million in 2006 cap dollars to work with.
Under the franchise and transition rules, the money only becomes guaranteed for franchise players who sign the tender. Also, and as the Chargers recently realized, a transition tender becomes guaranteed if (and only if) the transition tag is used on a guy who accepted the franchise tender in the prior season.
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