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The odds look long on the Green Bay Packers re-signing defensive tackle Corey Williams, though they haven't given up on it.

The Packers have been in contact with Williams' agent, and the sides have discussed contract parameters. But considering the possibility Williams could be the most coveted defensive tackle available in a thin free-agent crop this offseason, he could be in for a payday on the open market that General Manager Ted Thompson would consider too steep because of the Packers' depth at that position.

Thompson could use the Packers' franchise tag on Williams by the Feb. 21 deadline, and said Monday he has not ruled out that possibility, though the $6.263 million tender would be high for a rotational player at a deep position. If the Packers don't sign or tag him, Williams becomes an unrestricted free agent Feb. 29.

"I'd say ongoing," Thompson said of the Packers' talks with Mitch Frankel, who is Williams' agent. "It's safe to say there were some differences of opinion of where it was headed. We have guys here, (pro personnel director) Reggie McKenzie and (personnel analyst for the general manager) John Schneider, that have touched base with all those (pending free agents) and certainly have talked to Corey's people and let them know we still like him and still would like to have him on the team."

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Tennessee's Albert Haynesworth will be the best defensive tackle available in free agency if he hits the open market, but chances are he won't. If the Titans don't re-sign him soon, they're expected to use their franchise tag on him, which will make him all but unavailable because it will cost another team two first-round draft picks as compensation to sign him. Williams at 27 might be the next-best defensive tackle on some or many teams' boards, so he could be looking at guaranteed money as high as $10 million on the open market from a team desperate for a starting-caliber defensive tackle.

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The Ravens aren't going to let linebacker Terrell Suggs hit the open market when free agency begins at the end of the month.

"We will be using the franchise tag on Terrell if we don't have a long-term deal in place between now and then," general manager Ozzie Newsome said yesterday.

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