NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Jets have placed the franchise tag on playmaking linebacker David Harris, the first time the team has used the designation since 2006.
By using the tag, the Jets must pay Harris the average of the top five salaries among linebackers. Last year, Harris’ position was worth $9.6 million, meaning he could be in for a payday of close to $10 million.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum recently said re-signing Harris was a priority for the team, and regardless of the franchise tag, the Jets could still lock him up to a long-term deal.
He is the last of the team’s “Core Four” players — including Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson — to not get a new contract. The other three players received new deals before the season, and Harris said he would remain patient.
“It’s out of my hands and a lot of other people’s hands,” Harris said before the season. “That’s the rules and you’ve got to live by them.”
Harris had 99 tackles and three sacks in his fourth season, and is a valuable signal-caller in the middle of Rex Ryan’s aggressive defense. Since being a second-round pick out of Michigan in 2007, Harris has 422 tackles, 15 sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Harris, who made a base salary of $550,000 in the final year of his rookie deal, was voted the team ‘s 2010 MVP by his teammates.
It is uncertain whether the tag will stand because of the NFL’s unsettled labor situation. Jeff Pash, the league’s lead labor negotiator, said earlier this week he expected the franchise tag to continue to operate as it has previously.
NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith disagreed with that assessment, saying the 2011 season doesn’t fall under the current collective bargaining agreement that expires March 3.
“If there is no CBA, the franchise tags will be meaningless,” Smith said earlier this month.
The Jets were busy last offseason by making a series of high-profile signings, cuts and trades on their way to a second straight trip to the AFC championship game. New York will have another busy offseason ahead of them as they have to address several pending free agents, including wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
The Jets last used the franchise tag five years ago on Pro Bowl defensive end John Abraham, who was traded a month later to Atlanta for a first-round draft pick. Harris was the latest NFL player to have the franchise tag placed on him this offseason, joining New England offensive lineman Logan Mankins and Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick.
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