Washington Redskins officials are prepared to reopen negotiations with Jon Jansen on a contract extension, but if they fail to complete a deal, they plan to tag the right tackle as their transition player, NFL sources said. That would allow the team to retain him by matching any offer he receives as a free agent.
Jansen, 26, is in the final season of his contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agency following the season. The Redskins, sources said, would prefer to sign him to an extension and remain hopeful of completing a deal before the opening of the NFL's free agent signing period, probably in March. The Redskins made a push last month to sign Jansen to a multiyear contract extension worth about $4 million per season. The talks broke off about 51/2 weeks ago and have not resumed in earnest, but sources said yesterday that the two sides are readying for another round of negotiations.
Redskins officials and Jansen's agent, Rick Smith, declined to comment. Jansen was not available to comment.
The Redskins would be required to put the transition player label on Jansen just before the free agent market opens. Under NFL rules, the Redskins would have to pay Jansen a salary equal to the average of the 10 top-paid offensive linemen in the league next season if they make him their transition player. That figure is not available yet, but a team using its transition-player tag on an offensive lineman this season would have been required to pay that player a salary of $4.442 million.
Jansen would be on a one-year contract as the team's transition player, but the Redskins likely would continue to attempt to negotiate a long-term contract. Any long-term deal would be structured to be more salary cap-friendly for the Redskins, at least in the early years of the contract, than a transition player deal would be.
Jansen still would be free to negotiate with other teams if he is named the transition player. But the Redskins could keep him by agreeing within one week to match the contract terms of any deal he completes with another club. If they were to permit Jansen to sign elsewhere, the Redskins would not receive any compensation for him.
That differs from the more restrictive franchise player tag. A franchise player is, under some circumstances, barred from negotiating with other teams. In other instances, his club can retain him by matching any offers and receives two first-round draft choices from the player's new team if the franchise player signs elsewhere. But a franchise player must be paid the average of the five top-paid players at his position -- $4.92 million for an offensive lineman by this year's figures.
Teams generally try to avoid using the franchise or transition labels because they often generate bitterness by the player. NFL sources said yesterday, though, that Jansen's camp would not object. The transition tag would enable Jansen to negotiate the market-value deal that he feels he has not been offered by the Redskins. Then he would receive that contract from another team or from the Redskins, the sources said.
Jansen has been seeking a multiyear contract similar to the approximately $5 million-per-season deals of two other right tackles, Philadelphia's Jon Runyan and Cincinnati's Willie Anderson. But the Redskins maintained during negotiations that Jansen should be paid less because he has not demonstrated an ability to play the more glamorous left tackle spot if needed. He is one of the league's best and most durable right tackles, however, having missed only one snap while starting each of the Redskins' 60 games in his four seasons with the team. He has a salary of $563,500 this season as part of the four-year contract worth about $2.5 million he signed as a second-round draft pick out of the University of Michigan in 1999.