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In professional sports, a franchise player is an athlete who is not simply the best player on their team, but one that the team can build their "franchise" around for the foreseeable future. The term may be used alongside a particular position name to describe a player, such as a "franchise quarterback" in American football.
When a player is about to become a free agent each team has the opportunity to give that player a designation, keeping them there for at least one more season. When "franchising" a player you must pay the average of the top 5 players in that particular position.
Being referred to as a "franchise player" is not synonymous with being protected by being given a "franchise tag".
In the United States, outstanding players were referred to as "franchises" at least as far back as the 1950s. By the 1970s, the concept of a "franchise" player who single-handedly generates success was commonly understood in the sporting trade. The term franchise player was in widespread use by the early 1980s to describe both star rookies like John Elway and Kelvin Bryant and veterans like George Brett. While the term is primarily associated with North American English and sports, it is sometimes used in reference to athletes in sports outside the United States, such as rugby league and soccer players.
Franchise players are often referred to as the "face of the franchise", a status which may include the signing of product endorsement deals, media appearances and working with local charities.
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