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Steelers designate Woodley franchise player

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The Steelers announced today that free agent linebacker LaMarr Woodley has been designated as the team’s franchise player for the 2011 season.

In order for a player to receive the franchise designation, a team must tender a one-year contract at the average of the five highest-paid players at the player’s position in 2010, or 120 percent of the player’s 2010 salary, whichever is greater. A franchise player designation gives the club a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires. If the club matches, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives two first-round draft choices as compensation.

Under the NFL's current collective bargaining agreement, the franchise tag ensures that Woodley will play for the Steelers in 2011 at a salary determined by the average of the top five linebacker salaries in the league in 2010. That number is expected to be in the $10 million range.

The move may be meaningless, however, as the current CBA expires in two weeks. There's no guarantee that there will even be a franchise tag in the new agreement, when and if one is signed.

Woodley, a five-year veteran, has posted double-digit sack totals in each of his three seasons as a starter (2008-10), becoming one of only two players in team history to record at least 10 sacks in three straight seasons. His 39 sacks in his first four seasons with the Steelers is a team record.

Named to the 2010 Pro Bowl, Woodley is the only player in NFL history to post at least one sack in six consecutive postseason games. Woodley has 11 sacks in seven postseason games, including an NFL-record two sacks in each of his first four playoff contests. Woodley finished the 2010 season having registered 10 sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), three forced fumbles and two recovered fumbles.

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