'Franchise' deadline looming
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
The deadline of July 15 is fast approaching for teams which used to designated franchise tender. Three teams in the AFC North utilized the tag but only one team -- the Pittsburgh Steelers -- agreed to a four-year extension with left tackle Max Starks before the deadline.
That leaves Suggs with the Baltimore Ravens and Graham with the Cincinnati Bengals waiting and hoping for a similar result. Neither player is happy with the franchise tag and would prefer long-term security.
Suggs recently told the Ravens' team Web site that he's optimistic a deal will get done soon that likely will make the Pro Bowl linebacker/defensive end one of the highest-paid players in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Bengals have said publicly that they also will try to work out an extension with Graham, but there doesn't appear to be the same level of optimism for Cincinnati's kicker.
The past two years the Bengals have used the franchise tag on defensive end Justin Smith and offensive tackle Stacy Andrews, but Cincinnati lost both players in free agency after failing to reach long-term deals.