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LJ Smith gets franchised

From the official site...

The Eagles' offseason to-do list got a little bit shorter on Thursday when they placed the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on tight end L.J. Smith.

Under the terms of the "non-exclusive" franchise tag designation, Smith has been offered a one-year tender in the amount of the average of the five highest-paid tight ends in the NFL in 2007. Smith can sign the one-year deal, continue to negotiate a long-term deal with the Eagles or listen to offers from other teams when free agency begins Feb. 29. If Smith signs an offer sheet from another team, the Eagles can either match that offer or allow Smith to join the new team and receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.

Not a big surprise, without any better options in free agency at TE and not really any true 1st round worthy TEs in the draft LJ Smith was easily the best option for the team in 08. Brent Celek showed some flashes, but has hardly proven he's a starting TE at this level and Matt Schoebel is a backup at best. So for a mere $4.5 mil bringing LJ back was an easy choice. Plus, $4.5 guaranteed with another year to try and stay to prove himself isn't a bad deal for LJ either.

The only position that's cheaper to franchise than TE is punter/kicker. The question now is whether the Eagles will try and lock up LJ with a long term deal so they can pull the tag back or whether they'll let him play this year and prove whether he's worth the big bucks.

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