Agent: Talks in beginning stages

Updated: December 30, 2008, 12:58 PM ET
By Paul Kuharsky | ESPN.com

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans are now able to talk contract with Albert Haynesworth, their Pro Bowl defensive tackle who played this season as the team's designated franchise player.

The rules of the tag prohibit a team from negotiating with the player on a long-term deal until the regular season is complete.

Haynesworth's agent, Chad Speck, said via e-mail that he fielded a call from Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt on Monday.

"Mike called me today and expressed the Titans' interest to begin negotiations on a long-term deal for Albert," Speck wrote. "We had a preliminary discussion and our talks are in the very early stages. It is my intent to keep any future conversations I have with the Titans regarding Albert's contract private for the time being. I would echo coach [Jeff] Fisher's comments by saying that Albert is focused on getting his knee healthy and continuing his dominating play in the playoffs."

Haynesworth signed the $7.25 million tender deal in July after he and the team agreed on incentives that provided five different avenues for him to ensure the team could not tag him a second time. If Haynesworth met just one, he'd be cleared to become an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 27.

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Haynesworth, who missed the last two regular-season games with a sprained knee but is expected back for the team's Jan. 10 playoff game, was named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster on Dec. 16. That was one of the incentives and made it official that he could not be tagged again in 2009.

The Titans now have an exclusive negotiating window of a little more than two months. Haynesworth could be in line to become the highest-paid defensive player in the league.

"Clearly we've expressed a great deal of interest, as he has, in working things out," Fisher said. "We'll move forward, but the most important thing right now is the playoffs and getting him ready. Getting him back on the practice field, getting him ready to play at the level he was before he got hurt."

Paul Kuharsky covers the AFC South for ESPN.com.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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