The Pittsburgh Steelers confirmed outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley has signed his franchise tag, a move NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported earlier on Wednesday.
Woodley, 26, made $550,000 last season, the final year of his rookie contract. His salary, as a tagged linebacker, is expected to exceed $10 million next season. That's assuming that franchise tags are measured similarly and exist in a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Steelers hope the designation could lead to a long-term deal for Woodley, as it has for other Steelers players tagged in recent years.
Woodley recorded 50 tackles and 10 sacks last season, along with two interceptions and three forced fumbles.
NFL Network insider Albert Breer reports that one reason Woodley signed his tender, and Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil said he plans to sign his, is the threat that fourth- and fifth-year players could be stuck in the same situation they were during the 2010 offseason.
The high tender for fourth-year players last year was $3.168 million, and that means Woodley and Kalil, fourth-year players, would be subject to lose approximately $7 million if the franchise tenders are not signed and the 2010 rules roll over.
The union has advised agents and players that franchise tenders are meaningless without a new CBA, but it hasn't argued against players taking care of themselves in such "insurance policy" type of cases.
For Kalil and Woodley, an elimination of franchise tags would lead to free agency, and if the standard of free agency is raised to where fourth-year players wouldn't be unrestricted, both would have signed guaranteed tenders that would almost certainly be more valuable than their restricted free-agent tenders.
The league has advised teams that they have until 4 p.m. ET Thursday to tag players.