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Time running out for Titans to sign Haynesworth to long-term deal

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Time is running out for the Tennessee Titans to reach a long-term contract with All-Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth under terms of the franchise tag the team slapped on him back in February.

Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, and Titans officials were talking Monday with discussions expected to continue up to Tuesday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline to reach an extension. If no such deal is reached by that deadline, then the team cannot extend Haynesworth to a new deal until after the Titans conclude the 2008 season against Indianapolis on Dec. 28.

Speck did not respond to an e-mail message from The Associated Press. A team spokesman said Titans general manager Mike Reinfeldt was not available.

Haynesworth, the first player tagged as a franchise player by this team since safety Blaine Bishop in 1997, is coming off the best season of his career. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound tackle had six sacks, 23 quarterback pressures and six tackles for loss in earning his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

But Haynesworth has never played a full 16-game season in the NFL, including 2007 when he strained a hamstring chasing Carolina quarterback David Carr in a game during which he had a career-best three sacks. That kept him out of three games, and he had only one sack in the five games the rest of the season.

In six seasons, Haynesworth has played in 76 of a possible 96 games because of injuries and the five-game suspension in 2006 for swiping his cleated foot across the unprotected face of Dallas center Andre Gurode.

Teams have given out some big contracts to defensive linemen this offseason from Oakland guaranteeing more than $18 million of $50.5 million given to Tommy Kelly over seven years, $20 million of $35 million guaranteed by the New York Jets to Kris Jenkins and Chicago's four-year extension for Tommie Harris featuring $18 million guaranteed and $27 million in the first three years.

Haynesworth easily could command that much or more based on how well he was playing before his injury last season. He dominated on the line, drawing double-teams and even helping preserve a 20-13 win against Atlanta on Oct. 7 when he leaped up and over an offensive lineman to stick an arm out and tackle Byron Leftwich.

He was key in a defense that went from most yards allowed per game in the NFL in 2006 to fifth stingiest in 2007 and earned the team's first playoff berth since 2003 as a wild card. The tackle played so well he was being mentioned as the NFL's defensive player of the season before the injury.

Haynesworth, who played at the University of Tennessee, has not signed the one-year franchise tender that would pay him $7.25 million and skipped the Titans' offseason workouts. But he made an appearance in April as part of the team's annual fan caravan and said last month that he has been working hard on his own to be in shape for the season.

"I hope all this works out," Haynesworth said at a charity appearance June 24. "I've always said my goal is to be a Titan, and that hasn't changed."

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