Woodley not opposed to franchise tag

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Following Super Bowl XLV, outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley will have completed his final game under his rookie contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That means the 26-year-old could become one of the NFL's hottest free agents if he hits the open market.

But chances are the Steelers won't let it get to that point. The NFL recently ruled teams could use the franchise tag this offseason despite a potential lockout in March.

That gives Pittsburgh the flexibility to tag Woodley, its biggest free agent this offseason, if a long-term deal isn't reached. On Thursday, the linebacker discussed the possibility.

"Nah, I wouldn't be against it at all," Woodley said. "Whatever happens, happens. Would you like to have a long-term contract? Yeah. But a franchise tag, it doesn't matter to me."

Woodley was arguably the league's best bargain this season. Including playoffs, he recorded 57 tackles, 12 sacks, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and made just $550,000.

A franchise tag would pay Woodley the median salary of the top five linebackers in the NFL. That would be a huge pay raise for the former second-round draft pick, despite not getting long-term security beyond 2011.

Woodley has done a good job of staying focused on the season and was a big cog in Pittsburgh's No. 2 defense. He said he hasn't heard anything from the Steelers in terms of negotiations. It's standard for Pittsburgh to not to discuss contracts with players during the season.

But after Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh will eventually have to address quality free agents like Woodley and cornerback Ike Taylor.

"I honestly haven't been thinking about it," Woodley said. "I've just been focusing on where we're at right now. Eventually things will get taken care of. So I just want to focus on what's in front of me right now, and that's going out and winning this football game."