The New England Patriots have until 4:00 PM ET today to assign the franchise tag to one of their free agents. All along, it has been assumed that safety Devin McCourty would be the recipient of that designation.
Now, on the deadline day for the tag, Mike Reiss has revealed that it is more likely the Patriots use the tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski:
If the New England Patriots use the franchise tag before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, there is a greater likelihood it will be assigned to kicker Stephen Gostkowski than safety Devin McCourty, according to multiple sources involved in discussions with those involved.
Gostkowski's tag projects to be closer to $4.5 million, while McCourty's would be approximately $9.5 million.
These situations are always fluid, and things can always change in the hours leading up to the tag deadline, but this is the latest information we've learned at this time.
This is interesting news, to say the least. There are a lot of teams that project to be interested in McCourty’s services. Were he to hit the open market, a serious bidding war could ensue. The Patriots would like to sign McCourty to a deal that avoided a crippling year one cap hit. By not assigning McCourty the tag, they will leave that option very much open, but the odds the team loses him to another bidding team will also increase.