Colts designate tight end Clark as franchise player

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts have designated tight end Dallas Clark their franchise player, retaining him through at least the upcoming season.

Clark, the team's first-round pick in the 2003 draft, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Clark caught a career-high 58 passes for 618 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

The move amounts to a one-year contract worth the average of the league's top five tight ends in 2007: $4.522 million. Clark still is able to sign an offer sheet with another team, but the Colts can match the offer or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation from his new team.

The Colts also announced Wednesday that they have agreed to terms with offensive guard Ryan Lilja. Acquired off waivers from Kansas City in 2004, he has started 43 of 50 games in four seasons. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Teams have until Thursday to place the franchise tag on unrestricted free agents, after which they can negotiate long-term deals until July 15. After that, teams may only negotiate one-year deals with the players.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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