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Several players expected to be "tagged"

More teams are expected to rely on "franchise" and "transition" tags to keep potential free agents.

Updated: February 14, 2003, 4:43 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The clock is ticking inexorably toward the Thursday deadline for designating pending free agents as "franchise" or "transition" players and, while there are plenty of negotiations quietly taking place, the smart money is that very few contracts get completed.

That could mean a record number of "franchise" tags next week. And if that is the case, then look for the acrimony level to rise around the league, as the tagged players vent frustrations at being kept off the unrestricted market.

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