- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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At least one AFC North player will likely get hit with the franchise tag this offseason. According to a source, Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley is expected to get "tagged" by the AFC champions before the Feb. 24 deadline.
Woodley, 26, was one of the NFL's best bargains playing out the final year of his rookie contract. Including playoffs, he recorded 60 tackles, 13 sacks, two interceptions and made just $550,000 last season for Pittsburgh. Woodley also became the second player in franchise history to record three consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks, joining teammate James Harrison.
The franchise tag for linebackers is projected to be worth approximately $10.2 million next season. That would be a significant raise for Woodley, although labor uncertainty makes it unclear how the tag will be used once a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
"I wouldn't be against it at all," Woodley said during Super Bowl week. "Whatever happens, happens. Would you like to have a long-term contract? Yeah. But a franchise tag, it doesn't matter to me."
The Steelers and Woodley, a former second-round pick, are currently hamstrung with working out a long-term deal because of difficulties with the 30-percent rule under the old CBA, which expires in March. The franchise tag would keep Woodley off the open market and would buy both sides time to work out a long-term deal once a new CBA is reached.