The NFL franchise tag deadline came and went without the New England Patriots making a move. For a third straight year, the Patriots declined to use the tag to keep one of their unrestricted free agents from entering the open market next week.
Among the players impacted by the team’s decision are wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and cornerback Jonathan Jones, the only somewhat plausible candidates to get tagged by the Patriots.
The price tag associated with both positions, however, made such a move highly unlikely. Tagging Meyers would have cost New England $19.74 million; Jones’ tag was valued at $18.14 million. This would have made them the league’s 14th- and 9th-highest paid players at their respective positions moving into 2023.
As a result, both Meyers and Jones are on track to enter the market once it opens on Mar. 15 at 4 p.m. ET. This also means that they are subject to the legal tampering period that is taking place in the days before free agency officially starts.
The Patriots keeping both around is very much possible, but unless they agree to new contracts ahead of next week the market will decide their value.
They are, of course, not the only Patriots headed for free agency.
On the offensive side of the ball, the club has seven players in need of new contracts. Besides Meyers, fellow wide receiver Nelson Agholor is set to enter unrestricted free agency as are running back Damien Harris and offensive linemen Isaiah Wynn, Marcus Cannon and James Ferentz. O-lineman Yodny Cajuste is a restricted free agent.
Defensively, Jones is joined by nine others. Defensive tackles Daniel Ekuale and Carl Davis are also on expiring contracts just like linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson, cornerback Joejuan Williams and safeties Jabrill Peppers and Cody Davis. Cornerback Myles Bryant is a restricted free agency, while safety Devin McCourty’s deal will void on Mar. 15.
Special teamers Joe Cardona and Michael Palardy are also on their way to unrestricted free agency.
The Patriots last used the franchise tag in 2020, tagging guard Joe Thuney. A year later, Thuney left the team in free agency to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs.
This year, a total of six clubs employed the tag. The Baltimore Ravens (QB Lamar Jackson), Dallas Cowboys (RB Tony Pollard), Jacksonville Jaguars (TE Evan Engram), Las Vegas Raiders (RB Josh Jacobs), New York Giants (RB Saquon Barkley) and Washington Commanders (DT Daron Payne).