OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -The Baltimore Ravens designated two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs as their franchise player Tuesday, a move that prevents him from becoming an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month.
Suggs will be paid a one-year contract of $8.065 million, the average salary of the five highest paid linebackers in the NFL last season according to NFL Players Association figures. Under league rules, the Ravens can match any competing offer for Suggs or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
``We will continue to negotiate with 'Sizzle' with the intention of signing him to a long-term contract,'' Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. ``He is one of our best players, and our success with re-signing our best players is very good. We've done this with players like Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed and Chris McAlister - and that was after we franchised Chris.''
Until he signs his contract, Suggs is not required to attend offseason minicamps or training camp.
The NFL deadline to use the franchise tag was Thursday.
Under the terms of the franchise tag, Suggs will not receive a signing bonus and his salary will be doled out during the season. Suggs was paid $5 million last season after triggering an incentive clause in his contract at the end of the 2006 season.
In five seasons, Suggs has 45 sacks to rank third in franchise history behind Peter Boulware and Michael McCrary. Although he had a career-low five sacks last season, he recorded a career-high 78 tackles.
While cleaning out his locker Dec. 31 after coach Brian Billick was fired, Suggs expressed hope that he would be remain in Baltimore.
``I've always said and believe in my heart that I'm a Raven,'' Suggs said. ``I love the city of Baltimore. On the front office side, we're decided by the decisions and moves they make, on whether they see me as a Raven.''
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