We've reached a notable date on the NFL offseason calendar, as Monday marks the final day that teams can assign the franchise tag. Teams can use the tag on one player.
If the New England Patriots are to use the tag, safety Devin McCourty (around $9.5 million) and kicker Stephen Gostkowski (around $4.5 million) are the likely candidates. The Patriots, as one would expect, have not disclosed their intentions at this point.
Should the Patriots forego use of the tag on either player, it would open the door for each of them to fully experience unrestricted free agency when the 2015 league year begins on March 10. The team would lose a bit of leverage in that scenario.
Thus, we'll be monitoring this area Monday.
Patriots and the franchise tag (under Bill Belichick, 2000-present):
2002: Kicker Adam Vinatieri. Signed a multiyear extension.
2003: Safety Tebucky Jones. Tagged and then traded to New Orleans for three picks.
2005: Vinatieri. Played on the franchise tag and departed in free agency the next offseason.
2007: Cornerback Asante Samuel. Played on the franchise tag and departed in free agency the next offseason.
2009: Quarterback Matt Cassel. Tagged and then traded with linebacker Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for a second-round pick.
2010: Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. Signed a multiyear extension.
2011: Guard Logan Mankins. Signed a multiyear extension following a holdout.
2012: Wide receiver Wes Welker. Played on the franchise tag and departed in free agency the next offseason.