The New England Patriots have a long list of players about to hit free agency in not even two weeks, and now we know how much it would cost them to apply the franchise or transition tag to keep one of them from entering the open market on March 13. With the league setting the 2019 salary cap number at $188.2 million, the tag numbers look as follows:
Quarterback: $24.865 million (FT), $22.783 million (TT)
Defensive end: $17.128 million (FT), $14.360 million (TT)
Wide receiver: $16.787 million (FT), $14.794 million (TT)
Cornerback: $16.022 million (FT), $13.703 million (TT)
Linebacker: $15.443 million (FT), $13.222 million (TT)
Defensive tackle: $15.209 million (FT), $12.378 million (TT)
Offensive lineman: $14.067 million (FT), $12.866 million (TT)
Running back: $11.214 million (FT), $9.099 million (TT)
Safety: $11.15 million (FT), $9.531 million (TT)
Tight end: $10.387 million (FT), $8.815 million (TT)
Kicker/Punter: $4.971 million (FT), $4.537 million (TT)
Every unrestricted free agent but only one player per club can be tagged. For the Patriots, this means that 17 players can receive the franchise or transition tags this year. Of course, not all of them are worth being tagged. Realistically, there are only three players the Patriots might consider for the one-year, fully guaranteed tag: defensive end Trey Flowers, offensive tackle Trent Brown, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
While Brown and Flowers are the team’s undisputed top free agents, the team might shy away from using the tag on them — too small is New England’s financial wiggle room as it stands even after Dwayne Allen’s release; too rich the one-year deal in comparison. The third option, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, might therefore be more realistic: Gostkowski already received the tag in 2013 and it would not be surprising if the team again used it in order to set up a longer-term contract with the 35-year old.
The NFL also announced the tender levels for restricted free agents,
First-round tender: $4.407 million
Second-round tender: $3.095 million
Original-round tender: $2.025 million
The Patriots have one restricted free agent in Jonathan Jones and it would not be a surprise to see the team use the second round tender on him — especially considering that fellow cornerback Jason McCourty is about to hit unrestricted free agency. The move would give New England the right of first refusal of any incoming offers, and compensation in case the former undrafted free agent left to sign elsewhere.