Marcedes Lewis had the best season of his NFL career in 2010, becoming one of the most productive tight ends in football.
The Jacksonville Jaguars responded by placing the franchise tag on Lewis in February, shortly before the lockout froze all business.
The move took Lewis out of the limbo that other pending free agents in the league are feeling. But he also believes he deserves a long-term deal that rewards the progress he's made in his five years with the Jags.
"It's a catch-22, man," Lewis told profootballweekly.com,speaking about his franchise designation. "I want a long-term contract, and I know Jacksonville wants me there. I love playing in Jacksonville and who I work with there. But at the same time, who wants to play under a one-year contract? That's not cool.
"Especially when you have played five years and given your sweat, blood and tears to the team and laid it out there every Sunday, putting your body on the line. Obviously, it is what it is. I am just sitting here, being patient and trusting that we are going to get it done."
Lewis made the leap in a 2010 season in which he caught more touchdown passes (10) than he had in the prior four years combined (seven). He finished with 58 catches for 700 yards, serving as a security blanket for quarterback David Garrard.
"I think, me being in my fifth year, I am older, I am comfortable in the offense â¦ Dave (Garrard) and I were on the same page," Lewis said, referring to last year's Pro Bowl campaign. "He was getting hit in the mouth, but he knew where I was going to be and he could get me the ball and that I was going to be making plays."
Despite his frustration, Lewis is being a good soldier, instead choosing to put his faith in the team that selected him in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft.
"Jacksonville knows what (it) has in me and what kind of guy I am, my character," he said. "They know I am going to give it every day. In the meantime, I just work hard and keep a smile on my face."