Last week Geoff Hobson wrote that the Cincinnati Bengals are not expected to use the franchise tag in 2011, allowing cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Cedric Benson to leave for free agency if terms to an agreement can't be reached. Some would argue that Johnathan Joseph hasn't proven to be durable enough for a $14 million franchise tag, or a long-term contract that could rank among the top-five cornerbacks in the NFL.
That being said, a second AFC North team officially franchised a player that would have been a free agent when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached.
On Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers officially used their franchise tag to keep outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley for another season. The 26-year old linebacker posted his third straight season with ten quarterback sacks or more. In 2010, Woodley finished the season with 10 sacks, two interceptions, three forced fumbles and a touchdown (any guesses against whom?).
Much like Baltimore with Ngata, Pittsburgh is likely using the franchise tag to seal Woodley for another year, allowing the team to come to a long-term contract.
Woodley becomes the eighth player franchised this offseason (Note: seven of the eight franchise tags were handed out by teams that went to the playoffs last year).
|Pittsburgh Steelers||LaMarr Woodley||LB||(Non-Exclusive)|
|New England Patriots||Logan Mankins||G||(Non-Exclusive)|
|New York Jets||David Harris||LB||(Exclusive)|
|San Diego Chargers||Vincent Jackson||WR||(Non-Exclusive)|
|Baltimore Ravens||Haloti Ngata||DT||(Non-Exclusive)|
|Indianapolis Colts||Peyton Manning||QB||(Exclusive)|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Tambi Hali||LB||(Non-Exclusive)|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Michael Vick||QB||(Non-Exclusive)|