KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Albert Haynesworth considers himself a Tennessean, having spent six seasons with the Titans following his college career at Tennessee.
He'd like to stay a Tennessean, but that's up in the air as he and the Titans continue to negotiate his status as a franchise player.
"I'm not really worried about it, I guess I'll have a job next year. Hopefully we can work something out long-term so I can stay here," Haynesworth said Monday.
The Titans tagged Haynesworth as their franchise player in February to keep him from becoming one of several players leaving as an unrestricted free agent.
Tennessee must reach a long-term contract deal with Haynesworth by July 15. If that doesn't happen, the team can only sign him to a one-year deal worth $7.8 million.
"We've negotiated, but it's really, really, really slow. My agent thinks it will pick up when it gets closer to the deadline," he said.
In the meantime, he's traveling around the region with the Titans Caravan to see fans and sign autographs. He appeared Monday in his old college town of Knoxville, a place where he still keeps a home.
"He loves doing this. He enjoys the fans. He's one of our favorites to take out for that reason," said Tennessee director of broadcasting and "Voice of the Titans" Mike Keith, who travels with the caravan.
Because he hasn't signed his franchise tender, Haynesworth isn't allowed to work out with the team during its offseason program that started March 24.
"I'm trusting that Albert is working out hard," coach Jeff Fisher said. "He understands at this stage of his career how important it is to take care of your body and as you get older, you have to work harder just to maintain the level."
Haynesworth said he's enjoying the workout program he's doing on his own and trying some things he's never done before.
"I'm seeing a change. My body is getting stronger and more explosive," he said. "This season, I think you'll see a difference."
Haynesworth is coming off his best season as a professional, recording a career-high six sacks and earning All-Pro honors and a starting job in the Pro Bowl for the first time.
The stellar season helped turn around his image after earning the worst punishment in NFL history for an on-field act a season earlier for raking his cleated foot across the unprotected face of Dallas center Andre Gurode in a fit of anger.
He's been a bit critical of his team during the offseason, arguing that management had let too much talent go by losing free agents like defensive ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy.
He feels a bit better about where the Titans stand now after signing a few free agents of their own.
"Right now I think we're about the same as we were before free agency. Now we just need to add a couple more pieces, and I think this team can go deep into the playoffs."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)