The Indianapolis Colts are trying to come to an agreement on a new contract for defensive end Robert Mathis, but they are preparing to place the Franchise Tag on him if they can't do so by today's deadline (via @adamschefter). Mathis is one of several big-name free agents with the Colts, although he might be the most important one.
Mathis may be entering his age-31 season, but he is still one of the top pass rushers in the NFL. His 9.5 sacks in 2011 were down from his 11.0 in 2010, but they continued an impressively consistent run in which he's averaged more than .5 sacks per game in every season since 2004. During his 135-game NFL career, Mathis has racked up 83.5 sacks and forced 39 fumbles.
If the Colts do not either sign or franchise Mathis, he'll surely be one of the top targets on the free agent market and the Colts would risk losing him for no compensation.
For more on Mathis' contract situation, be sure to read Colts blog Stampede Blue.