Vince … And company


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You hang out around here enough, and you might think that Vince Wilfork’s the only guy dealing with the probability that he’ll be hit with the franchise tag.

We told you last week that there was an awful good chance that three 3-4 nose tackles get franchised before we get to the Feb. 25 deadline to tag guys.

Well, the first domino could be falling. The 49ers have been expecting to have to tag the big guy to left there, Aubrayo Franklin, since the beginning of the offseason, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting it’s now a fait accompli. I can confirm that.

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So who’s next? Well, it depends on whether Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton or Wilfork see progress in negotiations toward a long-term deal. Neither is close.

You guys know where Vince stands with all this. Hampton is not happy with the idea of being franchised, but the Steelers appear to be ready to tag him anyway. The Pittsburgh nose tackle told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that if the Steelers — who are working now to get a deal done with safety Ryan Clark — go through with the franchising, it “will be a problem.”

“You say we’re family and you’ll take care of me, and I feel like
that’s a slap in my face if you franchise me,” Hampton told the
Tribune-Review. “That’s not right. You don’t do business like that. I want to
be treated fair, and I think franchising me is not fair.”

OK, so how does one guy tie into the next? Well, Albert Haynesworth’s mega-deal last year threw the market for interior defensive linemen a bit out of whack, and no big-time 3-4 NT (a huge piece for anyone running that front) has signed since.

So one of these guys signing a long-term deal could, at least, give the others a point of comparison. The deals wouldn’t be the same, because they’re all different players, but at least there would be some point of reference. On the flip side, if they all get tagged, well, then we get where we are now …