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Steelers use franchise tag on versatile OLB Woodley

The Pittburgh Steelers used their franchise tag on outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, the team announced Friday.

Woodley, 26, made $550,000 last season, the final year of his rookie contract. His salary, as a tagged linebacker, is expected to exceed $10 million next season.

The Steelers hope the designation could lead to a long-term deal for Woodley, as it has for other Steelers players tagged in recent years.

Pittsburgh tagged offensive tackle Max Starks in 2009, then signed him to a four-year deal soon afterward. Last year, the team was ready to tag nose tackle Casey Hampton, but it instead signed him to a three-year deal just before the deadline to franchise players and tagged kicker Jeff Reed instead.

Woodley's 35 sacks since 2008 rank fourth in the NFL, and he's one of just five players (along with Dwight Freeney, James Harrison, Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware) to post double-digit sacks in each of the last three years.

Woodley recorded 50 tackles and 10 sacks this season, along with two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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