Titans tag Michael Griffin

Updated: March 5, 2012, 5:59 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have tagged safety Michael Griffin as their franchise player.

The Titans announced the move Monday a couple hours before the NFL deadline to use the tag. That means the Titans decided not to tag cornerback Cortland Finnegan before free agency begins March 13.

The move to tag Griffin still allows the Titans to work on a long-term contract before July 16 with the safety who was their first-round draft pick in 2007 out of Texas. Griffin was due to become an unrestricted free agent on March 13. Another team could sign Griffin to a contract, but the franchise tag allows the Titans to either match the contract or be awarded two No. 1 draft picks.

"Tag your it," Griffin wrote on Twitter after the Titans' announcement. Finnegan called Griffin next up as 2012 captain and congratulated him on Twitter.

"I think Cortland could be one of the hottest free agents out there on the market, and I am eager to talk to teams once free agency starts," Finnegan's agent, Terry Watson, told ESPN's Josina Anderson.

By tagging Griffin, the Titans are on target to return both starting safeties. The Titans have been talking with Jordan Babineaux but can't sign the veteran to a new deal until after free agency opens.

The Titans have much more depth at cornerback with Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner having started and Chris Hawkins, Ryan Mouton and Tommie Campbell also at the position.

The 6-foot Griffin is a two-time Pro Bowler, the last in 2010 when he led the team with four interceptions and ranked second on the team with a career-high 153 tackles. In 2011, he ranked third with 96 tackles and tied for the team lead with two interceptions. For his career, Griffin has started 73 of 80 games played, and he has 17 career interceptions with seven forced fumbles and four fumbles recovered.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.