In a generally unsurprising move, the Patriots have opted to not use their franchise tag. The franchise tag is usually reserved for a player regarded towards the top in their position in the league and would represent fair compensation on a one year deal.
The Patriots had two possible targets, with one being much more realistic than the other (although of very low chance). The lower of the low possibilities was wide receiver Julian Edelman, while the more likely of the two unlikely picks was cornerback Aqib Talib.
I don't think anyone could really argue in favor of paying Edelman a top 5 contract at wide receiver, while the chance of a Talib franchise tag likely went all the way out of the window once the Dolphins signed cornerback Brent Grimes to a four year deal for $32 million. There's no way that the Patriots would tag Talib for more money ($10.8 million) and for a one year deal.
This means that the Patriots will let both Edelman and Talib test the markets in hopes that they come up short of what the Patriots have budgeted out for their return.
In other news, the Browns have used their tag on center Alex Mack, which makes strong safety and Rob Gronkowski hitman a free agent, and a much desired prospect in free agency. Bernard Pollard re-signed with the Titans, so the chances of the Patriots signing both players to prevent possible future injuries disappeared.