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Still kickin': Browns tag kicker Phil Dawson

CLEVELAND (AP) - Phil Dawson's career is still kickin' with the Browns.

The dependable Dawson, who has been with Cleveland since its 1999 expansion season, will spend another year with the club after the Browns decided to use their franchise tag on the 37-year-old.

A team spokesman confirmed the plans to use the tag on Friday.

It's the second straight year the Browns have franchised Dawson, who made $3.25 million last season and will make 20 percent more - roughly $3.8 million - next season, his 14th in a logo-less orange helmet. If they hadn't used the tag on Dawson he would have become an unrestricted free agent later this month.

The Browns may still try to sign the steady Dawson to a long-term contract. He's coming off one of his best seasons, making 24 of 29 field-goal attempts and seven from beyond 50 yards, one shy of the NFL record.

Dawson has said he's open to finishing his career with the Browns. Through their few highs and many lows over more than a decade, Dawson has been the one thing Cleveland can count on. He's the Browns' career leader in field goals and second to Hall of Famer Lou Groza in scoring.

Dawson called the 2011 season his best and when it ended, he knew there was a strong chance the Browns would franchise him again.

"It would be the second time around, so I'd probably feel a little different than last time," he said on Jan. 2. "Last year was so weird with the lockout, no one knew the timetable of anything. This will be a little bit more of a normal-type calendar, normal communications. You couldn't even talk to people last year. I'll probably feel different, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I can't necessarily predict."

Believing he had played his final game with the Browns in 2010, Dawson said his goodbyes and sold his home in the Cleveland area before the team surprised him by using its franchise tag on him for the first time. Last year was tough on him personally because his wife and sons stayed in Texas while he played for the Browns. It didn't affect his performance, though, as Dawson had another solid season.

Earlier this week, the Browns signed linebacker D'Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract, making it likely they would use their franchise tag on either Dawson or running back Peyton Hillis. Teams can only tag one player, meaning Hillis will become an unrestricted free agent.

Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert have left open the possibility the team will try to re-sign Hillis, who rushed for nearly 1,200 yards in 2010 but was a distraction while injured last season.

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