Prior to today, 4:00 p.m. ET, NFL teams had the possibility to designate one of their upcoming free agents as either a franchise or transition player by putting a tag on them. Seven teams have chosen to do just that to prevent players from hitting the market – and they are as follows:
Arizona Cardinals: LB Chandler Jones
Carolina Panthers: DT Kawann Short
Los Angeles Chargers: LB Melvin Ingram
Los Angeles Rams: CB Trumaine Johnson
New York Giants: DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Pittsburgh Steelers: RB Le’Veon Bell
Washington Redskins: QB Kirk Cousins
The New England Patriots, who were seen as potential users of the tag, were not among the teams to apply it.
Given yesterday’s news that the Patriots would not tag their most logical candidate – linebacker Dont’a Hightower, who would have received $14.55 million as a result –, the chances of the team using the tag became slim. And indeed, New England did not opt to place it on one of its players.
Consequently, all of the team’s impending unrestricted free agents are scheduled to hit the open market on March 9. While the Patriots still have the chance to re-sign them prior to that date, it seems more likely that the team will see the majority of its free agents, if not all, test the free agency waters.