There were only a few teams that used their franchise tag. A few made sense from a fiscal stand point, with Washington tagging pass rusher Brian Orakpo, the Panthers tagging defensive end Greg Hardy and the Saints tagging tight end Jimmy Graham. Others are less consequential, like the Jets tagging kicker Nick Folk (who had himself a very solid season).
Others have some fall out that can interest the Patriots. The Browns transition tagged center Alex Mack, which allows them to match any offer that Mack may receive on the street, with a minimum guarantee of $10.4 million. The Browns have plenty of cap space, but it certainly limits their ability to bring back safety T.J. Ward, who will likely cash in with a solid pay day in free agency. With the Patriots letting Steve Gregory go, Ward makes plenty of sense to fill in the strong safety spot next to Devin McCourty.
Another tag that matters is the Steelers tag on pass rusher Jason Worilds. Like Mack's situation, it's a match-the-street deal, with a floor of $9.75 million. As noted by Pete Damilatis of Pro Football Focus, the Steelers are now $15 million over the salary cap.
Which brings us to the Patriots. Just spit-balling, but isn't there a free agent that's been oft-linked to the Patriots in free agency? A certain wide receiver the Patriots tried to sign, but were unable to because the Steelers matched the offer?
Looks like the Patriots might be one of the few in pursuit of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers just knocked themselves out of the race.
Now nothing's official, but this is just another piece of knowledge to tuck away as we head into free agency.