Mare given franchise tag

Updated: February 24, 2010, 9:57 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

The Seattle Seahawks announced Wednesday that they have placed the franchise tag on kicker Olindo Mare.

Mare is guaranteed a one-year contract at $2.814 million but he won't be able to hit the free-agent market. A team wanting to sign him would have to be willing to give up two first-round picks, which is unlikely.

The Seahawks still have the ability to place a transition tag on any of their other free agents. Wide receiver Nate Burleson is considered their top free agent and is one of the top unrestricted free agents available.

As a result, the 36-year-old Mare will receive a tender for the average salary of the top five kickers in the NFL -- $2.8 million -- or a 20 percent salary increase.

"We are excited to assure Olindo remains with the team," Seattle general manager John Schneider said in a statement. "It is important to have continuity in the kicking game."

Mare is coming off the finest season of his career despite Seattle's struggles. He made 24 of 26 kicks, ranking third in the NFL in percentage, and is now 48 for 53 in his two seasons with the Seahawks. Mare finished the season making a franchise record 21 straight attempts and added 22 touchbacks on kickoffs, fifth in the league.

But his job was thought to be in jeopardy after a Week 3 loss to Chicago, where Mare suffered both of his misses -- both inside 43 yards. He was then called out publicly immediately after the 25-19 loss by former coach Jim Mora.

"No excuses ... You've got to make those kicks, especially when you're in a game like this kicking and fighting and scratching and playing your tail off and you miss those kicks," a terse Mora said in postgame comments Sept. 27. "Not acceptable. Not acceptable. Absolutely not acceptable."

"We'll look at making a change everywhere. We're not going to fight our [rears] off and have a field goal kicker go out there and miss two field goals and lose a game."

A day later, Mora regretted the outburst. And it's good for Seattle that a change never came. Mare was perfect the rest of the season, his 13th in the NFL.

His 92.3 percent success rate on field goals this season was the highest of a highly accurate 13-year career for the 1999 Pro Bowl selection with Miami. Mare left the Dolphins following the 2006 season as their all-time scoring leader, then had one injury-filled season in New Orleans before he resurrected his career with Seattle.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer