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Jets Place Franchise Tag on LB Harris

The Jets have placed the franchise tag on linebacker David Harris, the team confirmed Tuesday. The tag doesn’t preclude the Jets from signing Harris, their leading tackler, to a new deal before the season.

Because of the labor uncertainty, general manager Mike Tannenbaum said recently that he doesn’t expect to negotiate any long-term contracts before March 3rd, when the current CBA expires.

If Harris doesn’t get signed by the start of the season, he will make the franchise tender — the average salary of the five highest-paid linebackers in the league. In 2010, that figure was $9.6 million — more than twice what Harris has made in four seasons.

Harris didn’t complain last season when D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold signed new deals totaling more than $160 million.

At the time, both sides acknowledged that the rules of the uncapped 2010 year made it difficult to re-sign veterans, especially those who weren’t drafted in the first round, and they agreed to revisit the matter after the season. Harris was a second-round pick out of Michigan in 2007.

In many cases, the franchise tag creates ill will between the player and team — but not in this case.

“This is a procedural move by the Jets,” Harris’ agent, Brian Mackler, said in a phone interview. “Based on what Mike and coach [Rex] Ryan have said, David is very important to the team. In no way, shape or form will this prevent us from our ultimate goal, which is to get David signed to a long-term deal. My expectation is that will get done once the CBA is done.”

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