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Hawks Place the Franchise Tag on LB Hill

The Seahawks Thursday took a big step towards making sure they would not lose linebacker Leroy Hill, as they put the franchise tag on him. The move almost means for sure that Hill won’t be leaving in free agency.

The team and Hill’s agent both said they want a long-term contract to keep the linebacker in Seattle.

“Yeah, absolutely. … This is his first chance to remain a Seahawk with a long-term deal,” agent Todd France said Thursday while on his cell phone as he walked off a plane in Indianapolis, where he is attending the NFL’s annual scouting combine.

Seahawks president Tim Ruskell said last month retaining Hill was his top priority for the offseason.

The 26-year-old will get a big raise after getting tagged, as he is guaranteed a raise from his $927,000 base salary in 2008 to $8.3 million this year – the average salary of the top five linebackers in the NFL.

Hill will be free to negotiate with any other team, but the Seahawks can match any offer. They would receive two first-round draft choices if they decide not to match.

“If this situation was a choice between the franchise tag or free agency, sure he’d be disappointed,” France said. “But our goal is a long-term deal.”

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