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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Casey Hampton decision looming

By James Walker
ESPN.com

Hampton
Hampton

The clock is ticking for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh officially has two days left to decide if Pro Bowl nose tackle Casey Hampton will get the franchise tag for the 2010 season.

This is one of the biggest decisions Pittsburgh will make in the offseason. The Steelers could either guarantee Hampton a one-year deal with the franchise tag, work out a multi-year extension, or allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

There is also the possibility of "tagging" Hampton with the goal of using the extra time to work out a long-term deal. The New England Patriots did that Monday by using their franchise tag on nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

Unless something dramatically changes in the next 48 hours, expect Pittsburgh also to use the franchise tag with Hampton before Thursday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. The Steelers cannot afford to lose their starting nose tackle without a long-term replacement currently on the roster.