Steelers game of tag will end today
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Casey Hampton waits in Texas for what he hopes is word today about a new contract while agents for Ryan Clark and Jeff Reed steam toward Indianapolis as contract talks with the Steelers and their trio of priorities gain momentum.
The deadline for the Steelers to use either of their franchise or transition tags is 4 p.m. today. They plan to use their franchise tag on Hampton if a new contract is not negotiated and likely will use the transition on Reed.
"We're still working, man," Hampton said from home Wednesday. "I'm just hoping a deal will get done."
Hampton, Clark and Reed can become unrestricted free agents March 5 if they do not sign a contract before then.
The team can restrict two of those players somewhat in free agency by using the two tags. The franchise tag on Hampton would guarantee him $7 million in salary for the 2010 season and virtually eliminate their Pro Bowl nose tackle going anywhere. A transition tag on Reed would guarantee him a salary of $2,629,000, but the kicker would still be able to sign elsewhere with the Steelers only maintaining their right to match such a deal and keep him.
The team is not expected to use a tag on Clark, the free safety who would command $6,455,000 as a franchise player or $6,011,000 as a transition. Each team can use only two tags -- one franchise and one transition, or two transitions.
Joel Turner, Clark's agent, plans to meet with Steelers negotiator Omar Khan at 5 p.m. Friday in Indianapolis, where the NFL Scouting Combine starts today.
"In negotiating on Ryan's behalf, for what we are trying to do, it is not something that is unpalatable for this organization and certainly not in an uncapped year," Turner said. "Unlike other people who said they would give trouble if they were franchised, you never heard those words out of us.."
Turner said he is trying to negotiate a "fair" contract for Clark.
"We're trying to do something good for his family and the organization, and it's something they can do if they want to do it. It's as simple as that. We're not asking for something exorbitant, and it wouldn't be a cap-breaker if there was one. Ryan wants to be back, and it's nothing we can't work out."
Reed's agent, Don Henderson, plans to arrive in Indianapolis at noon today, and it's likely he too will talk with Khan.
NOTES -- Two Steelers will be inducted into their college's athletic halls of fame Saturday. Kent State will honor linebacker James Harrison and Eastern Michigan University will honor quarterback Charlie Batch.
First Published February 25, 2010 12:00 am