The NFL franchise tage deadline is today at 4PM EST and we'll use this thread to provide updates throughout the day. Here are some update points for the day:
1) All signs are pointing to the tag applying to kicker Stephen Gostkowski and not free safety Devin McCourty. The tag for a kicker is much cheaper and there's some thought that the Patriots and McCourty have a long term deal in mind. Kickers are expected to receive $4.12 million, while safeties would receive $9.6 million.
2) McCourty is looking to receive top safety money, which he is very likely to receive. McCourty could receive $8.5 million average per season (note how that is less than the tag amount) and be the 3rd highest paid safety in the league, behind Earl Thomas and Jairus Byrd. Heck, McCourty could receive a hair over $7 million per season and be the 6th highest paid safety. Notice how wide that range is?
3) The Patriots could be willing to let McCourty test the market knowing that he ultimately wants to be in New England. They will be willing to pay what it takes to keep McCourty around and instead of playing the range of $7 million to $9.6 million at the tag, the Patriots could let the market set the price tag and react accordingly. For the sake of cash spending and spreading a cap hit, they'll want McCourty in a long term deal, too.
4) Gostkowski, on the other hand, is likely to receive near $4 million per season, anyways, as that's top dollar. The team would rather lock in Gostkowski at $4.12 million, if his market value is actually, say, $3.5 million, than pay McCourty $9.6 million if his market value dictates just $7 million.
5) All of this considered, it's likely the Patriots will treat McCourty similar to Julian Edelman and other players who want to stay in New England. The price is initially set, feel free to test the market, there is room to negotiate, and then the final price is made so McCourty stays and both parties are happy.
6) Darrelle Revis' option has to be picked up by March 9th, so New England has some leeway. Look for the two sides to come to an agreement closer to the deadline, but for both sides to ultimately be happy. Revis wants to stay with a winning franchise and the Patriots are more than willing to pay him his symbolic top dollar.
7) In 2010, the Patriots made Vince Wilfork, age 28 (almost 29), the highest paid nose tackle in football. In 2011, the Patriots made Logan Mankins, age 29, the highest paid interior lineman in football. In 2012, the Patriots made Rob Gronkowski, age 23, the highest paid tight end in football. There's no reason to think that Revis, soon-to-be 30, couldn't also see a top dollar contract. In fact, signs point to the Patriots being more than willing to pay those who deserve it. Revis deserves it.