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Tagging Justin Smith will cost over $10 million

Tagging Justin Smith would cost the Bengals $10.372 million, writes Mark Curnutte. Why such an increase? Because last season Smith was paid $8.644 million and franchising a player means you either pay the average of the top-five salaries at that position or an increase of 120% from the pervious season's salary -- whichever is greater.

Take $8.644 million and multiply by 120% and you get $10.372 million. Take into consideration that the league's salary cap is rising to $116 million and that's 8% of your payroll going to one a guy that recorded only two sacks in 2007. That's highway robbery.

Additionally, by tagging Smith and if you figure that the Bengals trade Chad Johnson, that would cost the team $18.4 million. That jumps to 15.9% of your salary cap for only two players -- one that won't even be playing for the team. Therefore, you have to wonder, if the Bengals are entertaining trade options for Johnson, would that prevent the team from tagging Smith?