Less than 24 hours before the Thursday deadline to apply the franchise tag to a player, the Ravens have officially given the designation to linebacker Terrell Suggs.
According to general manager Ozzie Newsome, negotiations for a long-term deal for Suggs are still ongoing.
"Our plan is to sign a long-term contract with 'Sizzle.' We believe our history of keeping our best players for a long time speaks for itself," Newsome said.
It is the second consecutive year that Suggs has received the franchise tag. As such, he is due to receive 120 percent of his salary from last season (which was the difference between the averages of the top five salaries for linebackers and the top five for defensive ends).
The last time the Ravens franchised the same player in back-to-back seasons happened in 2003-04, when cornerback Chris McAlister was tagged for the 2004 campaign before signing a lucrative, long-term extension.
As Newsome indicated, Baltimore has a history of retaining successful, top-producing young players. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis and Ed Reed – all first-round draft picks – are examples of Newsome's philosophy.
Suggs, 26, is coming off a stellar season that saw him lead the team with eight sacks and notch a career-high 102 tackles. The former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year also returned two interceptions for touchdowns, earning his third Pro Bowl berth.
A first-round draft pick in 2003, Suggs is currently second in franchise history with 53 career sacks, behind only Ring of Honor member Peter Boulware's 70.
While working on a new contract for Suggs, the Ravens continue to negotiate with their free agent class of 2009, which includes Lewis and Bart Scott, both starting linebackers, and safety Jim Leonhard and center Jason Brown.
Unless new deals are signed in the next week, players officially hit the open market at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 27.