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Six NFL players get tagged

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Four soon-to-be free-agent players were designated with the franchise tag this year and two drew the transition tag, which had not been used since 2011.

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In 2013, eight players received the franchise tag and only one player, Denver Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, wound up with a long-term contract.

Franchise and transition player designations were announced by the league Monday for the 2014 NFL free agency signing period, which begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 11.

Three teams did so Friday when New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and New York Jets kicker Nick Folk were franchised. On Monday, the Washington Redskins gave outside linebacker Brian Orakpo the franchise tag.

Also on Monday, Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack and Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jason Worilds were designated as transition players.

A club can designate one "franchise" player or one "transition" player among its veteran free agents.

The salary offer by a player's club determines whether the franchise player designation is exclusive or non-exclusive.

An "exclusive" franchise player — not free to sign with another club — is offered the greater of the average of the top five salaries at the player's position for the current year as of the end of the restricted free agent signing period on May 2; or the amount of the required tender for a "non-exclusive" franchise player.

The signing period for franchise players begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 11 and ends on the Tuesday following the 10th week of the season (Nov. 11).

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