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Patriots do not use franchise tag

The deadline to franchise tag a player has come and gone and the New England Patriots declined to use it. Before we all go jump off a bridge, this may have been a shrewd move by the Patriots front office. With the uncertainty of the CBA, many teams are uneasy and flat out uncomfortable using the tag this season in fear of being cash strapped. Only three players - the Jets John Abraham, the Lions Jeff Backus and Buffalo's Nate Clements - had been slapped with the franchise tag.  From the Patriots official site:

"The 4 p.m. deadline came and went Thursday afternoon and the Patriots chose not use their franchise or transition designations on anyone. That decision means, barring some last minute negotiations, that Adam Vinatieri, David Givens, Stephen Neal and the rest of the team's 16 unrestricted free agents will hit the open market when free agency begins March 3 at the start of the new league year."

Belichick and Pioli obviously felt the franchise numbers were too high.  For Vinatieri it would have meant a one year deal of just over $3 million, which is higher than the deal he played under last year of just over $2.5 million.

For Givens, it would have meant paying him either 120% higher than his previous salary or the average of the top 5 players' salaries at his position.  This translates into a one year salary of $6.172 million.  Hey, I love Givens and want him to stay but are these numbers worthy of #1 franchise receiver pay?

David Givens 2005 stats:

59 catches
738 yards
2 TD's

As for Vinatieri, we need to keep him, albeit at a reasonable rate.  I believe the front office will work a deal for "Mr. Clutch".  It would be a shame if they let him finish his career in another uniform...(Dallas, as all the rumors say).