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Cost to 'franchise' Clements drops by $2.91 million

DETROIT -- It will not cost the Bills as much as expected to use a franchise tag on cornerback Nate Clements, if they choose to use it to retain his rights.

The NFL Players Association on Thursday released the values for the franchise and transition tags for prospective free agents this offseason.

The cost of putting a franchise tag on a cornerback is $5.89 million. Last year the tag for cornerbacks cost $8.8 million. The franchise tag represents the average of the top five salary cap figures for the position the previous season. Denver's Champ Bailey signed a giant contract with an $18 million bonus in 2004. That inflated the cap figure. It came back down this offseason because fewer top cornerbacks hit the open market in 2005.

Clements is the top Bills player whose contract is up. The franchise tag essentially takes a free agent off the market but forces the team using it to pay the player the average of the top five at the position for the upcoming season.

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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