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Titans, Haynesworth can't reach deal before franchise deadline

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans and All Pro defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth failed to reach an agreement on a long-term contract by Tuesday's deadline for franchised players.

Team officials and Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, talked most of Monday and up to Tuesday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline without reaching an extension to keep the six-year veteran past the 2008 season. Both sides can keep talking, but no long-term contract could be signed until after the Titans finish the season.

Now Haynesworth must decide when, and if, to sign the tender paying him $7.25 million for the season with the Titans opening camp July 25.

General manager Mike Reinfeldt pointed out that the Titans already have signed left tackle Michael Roos and right tackle David Stewart to contract extensions this offseason along with receiver Justin Gage and fullback Ahmard Hall. But he said they couldn't agree to the right number with Haynesworth's agent after months of talks.

"By league rule, he will play under a one-year contract this year," Reinfeldt said in a statement.

"Albert is a player whose abilities we value and respect, which is evidenced by the one-year contract that makes him the highest-paid defensive tackle in the NFL in 2008. We have great expectations for his play this year and what his play can mean for our defense and our team."

Speck had no immediate comment.

Previously, Speck has said Haynesworth would like the Titans to promise not to tag him as their franchise player in 2009 before the tackle signs the tender. A team can franchise a player three times but also can waive its right to use the tag on a player in a contract.

Reinfeldt said the Titans intend to stay in contact with Haynesworth's agent through the season and see if they can agree on what he called "a fair number on a long-term agreement for a player with his qualities."

Tennessee had not used the franchise tag on a player since safety Blaine Bishop in 1997.

The 6-foot-2, 320-pound Haynesworth is coming off his best season, registering six sacks, 23 quarterback pressures and earning All Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the first time in his career.

But the Titans see a player who has yet to play an entire 16-game season, missing 20 of a possible 96 games either due to injuries or the five-game suspension Haynesworth served in 2006 for swiping his cleated foot over Dallas center Andre Gurode's face. Haynesworth missed three games in 2007 with a strained hamstring and had only one sack in his final five games.

Haynesworth sat out the team's offseason program, working out on his own. When he returns and what shape he is in will play a key role on a defense that was the NFL's fifth-best and led the Titans back to the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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