On the Steelers: Woodley franchised

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The Steelers put their franchise tag on linebacker LaMarr Woodley, which may or may not mean anything depending on what occurs in the next collective bargaining agreement.

That designation would, under the old rules, guarantee that Woodley plays for the Steelers another season with his salary determined as the average of the top five linebacker salaries in the league in 2010. A year ago, that was $9.68 million and should range around $10 million in '11. He made $550,000 last season, the fourth and final of the contract he signed as a rookie.

The current CBA expires March 3, and there is no guarantee a franchise tag will exist under the new rules. Without that tag, Woodley would become an unrestricted free agent -- again, provided players in the new CBA can become unrestricted after four seasons.

Woodley was the team's second-round draft choice in 2007 and has started at left outside linebacker the past three seasons. His 39 sacks in his first four seasons with the Steelers is a team record. He made the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season. He has 11 sacks in seven postseason games.

The Steelers hope to work out a long-term contract with Woodley, the way they did with tackle Max Starks after they named him their franchise player in 2009.

Ed Bouchette: ebouchette@post-gazette.com .


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