NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -The Tennessee Titans will slap defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth with a franchise tag by Thursday's deadline, but will keep working to sign the All-Pro to a long-term deal, his agent said Friday.
Agent Chad Speck said he talked with Titans general manger Mike Reinfeldt on Friday and that both sides are working on a long-term contract for Haynesworth. Speck said he doesn't anticipate a deal being completed before the Thursday deadline for teams' to designate franchise player.
``Mike confirmed to me that he will use the franchise tag on Albert but is committed to trying to get a deal done by July 15,'' Speck wrote in an e-mail. ``I spoke with Albert today, and he is encouraged that talks have resumed.''
Thursday is the final day teams can slap the franchise tag on players to keep them off the free-agent market that opens March 1.
anchise tag for the first time since 1997 was a possibility for Haynesworth.
``The franchise tag is certainly a mechanism that's available to us. But we've had discussions with Albert's people, and we'll continue to have those discussions,'' he said.
The franchise designation will guarantee that Haynesworth is paid $6.37 million next season, the average salary of the five highest-paid defensive tackles. He was fourth on that list last year at $6.04 million.
Haynesworth rebounded from a five-game suspension in 2006 to post a career-high six sacks with 23 quarterback pressures and 69 tackles in 2007.
Haynesworth was a key piece in a defense that jumped from 32nd in yards allowed defensively in 2007 to fifth, a 6-2 start and the team's first playoff berth since 2003 despite a strained right hamstring that kept him out of three games.
He was an All-Pro for the first time in his career and played in his first Pro Bowl as a starter last week.
Teams can name a player an exclusive franchise tag, committing to a minimum offer of the average of the top five salaries at a player's position, a 20 percent raise from his 2007 salary or the average of the top five salaries at his position - whichever is highest. That keeps other clubs from talking to the player.
with two first-round draft picks.
``It gives you a chance to kind of wrap things up if you're making progress,'' Reinfeldt said. ``It gives you a chance to continue those discussions.''
Haynesworth is one of 14 Titans about to hit the free-agent market, and the Titans have been evaluating their own roster against the list of other players about to become available.
They also have spent the past days prepping for the NFL Combine, which starts Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Reinfeldt wouldn't go into specifics, but he said they've been negotiating on a number of their free agents, including All-Pro kicker Rob Bironas, a restricted free agent, receiver Justin Gage and defensive ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy.
The other unrestricted free agents include starting left guard Jacob Bell. Starting right tackle David Stewart is a restricted free agent.
``Our hope is we can get some of them in before the start of free agency,'' Reinfeldt said.
``At the same time, if free agency does start and we haven't reached an agreement, that doesn't preclude us from reaching an agreement with those players. We'll continue to have discussions. It's not an absolute cutoff.''
Notes: Reinfeldt declined to comment on suspended cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones, who entered an Alford plea to obstruction of a police officer in Georgia on Thursday. The Titans have been waiting until the suspension is lifted. But Reinfeldt said they do have plans for various scenarios relating to personnel.
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