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NFL News

Patriots put franchise tag on Samuel
Fri, Feb 16, 2007
By Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots designated Asante Samuel as their franchise player Friday in a move that would keep the cornerback with the team for at least one more season.

The 26-year-old has played in 59 regular-season and 11 playoff games with New England since being drafted in 2003, and would have been an unrestricted free agent if the Patriots hadn't designated him as their franchise player.

Without the tag, the Patriots would not be compensated if he signed with another team.

''Asante Samuel is an outstanding player who has been a consistent contributor for us for several years,'' coach Bill Belichick said in a statement the team issued Friday night. ''We hope Asante remains a Patriot for many seasons to come.''

Samuel previously said he would like to stay in New England under the ''right conditions.'' He tied Champ Bailey for the NFL regular-season lead with 10 interceptions last season.

New England drafted Samuel out of Central Florida in the fourth round, 120th overall, in the 2003 NFL draft.

Samuel has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the playoffs, tying him for the most in NFL history with former Oakland Raider Willie Brown.

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Re: NFL News

Bengals put franchise tag on DE Justin Smith
By Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Defensive end Justin Smith, who has led Cincinnati's line in tackles in each of the last five seasons, was designated as the Bengals' franchise player Thursday.

Smith would have become an unrestricted free agent March 2 if he doesn't reach a contract agreement with the Bengals before then. The franchise tag means the Bengals could keep Smith by matching any offer sheet he signed with another team.

If they choose not to match another offer, the Bengals would get the other team's first-round draft picks in 2007 and 2008 as compensation.

He would be guaranteed $8,644,000, the average salary of the top five defensive ends next season.

''This move helps us keep our core players together, and it gives us an opportunity to continue negotiating for a longer-term contract with Justin,'' coach Marvin Lewis.

Smith had 110 tackles in the 2006 season and ranked second on the team in sacks with 7.5. He has played all six of his NFL seasons with Cincinnati.

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Giants OT Bob Whitfield retires after 15-year NFL careerBy Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants offensive tackle Bob Whitfield announced his retirement on Thursday, ending a 15-year career with three teams that was highlighted by a Pro Bowl selection and a Super Bowl start.

''I always had a lot of fun,'' Whitfield said. ''Even in the rough and tumble times, it was always a good feeling. The positive side of making a turnaround, that was what I truly enjoyed about the sport - overcoming adversities, especially when people don't give you a chance.

''That's the emotional roller coaster people don't recognize in football. Your heart is broke one week and you have a picnic the next,'' said Whitfield, who made nine starts and played in every game with the Giants over the past two seasons.

The eighth overall choice in the 1992 NFL Draft after playing at Stanford, Whitfield played his first 12 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, going to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in the 1998 season. He played for Jacksonville in 2004 and then joined the Giants.

Whitfield appeared in 220 regular-season games, making 176 starts, including 123 consecutive games for the Falcons. The streak started in 1993 and ended in 2000.

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