Source: Jets to tag David Harris

Few teams have as many key free agents to re-sign as the New York Jets, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and now have 17 players scheduled to hit free agency.

But New York plans to use its lone franchise tag not on receivers Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, but on linebacker David Harris, according to a league source.

Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and special teams ace Brad Smith also will be free agents.

The linebacker franchise tag number last season was $9.6 million, but Harris would like a considerably longer-term deal than just one year. If franchise tags are allowed -- and the NFLPA plans to battle that -- the Jets will restrict the 27-year-old Harris but will allow Holmes and Edwards to test the free-agent market.

Teams can start using the franchise label Feb. 10. Jeff Pash, the NFL's lead labor negotiator, said earlier this week he expected the franchise tag to continue to operate as it has previously.

Harris, who was voted by the Jets' players as the team's MVP, had 99 tackles and three sacks in the 2010 season. He has had 127 tackles in two of his four NFL seasons, including 2009 -- his first in coach Rex Ryan's defensive system.

Tannenbaum recently said re-signing Harris was a priority for the team, and the Jets could still lock him up to a long-term deal -- whether or not they use the franchise tag. 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.

The Jets would like to bring back at least one of their veteran wide receivers. In fact, at his end of the season press conference, general manager Mike Tannenbaum said he would like to re-sign both Holmes and Edwards. He felt the duo aided quarterback Mark Sanchez's development.

Adam Schefter is ESPN's NFL Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.