After a bit of a delay, the NFL's franchise/transition tag window has been open since last Thursday and will run through March 12.
A few players have been hit with the tag, but all has been quiet when it comes to the Patriots potentially using it -- and for good reason because it seems unlikely.
Tom Brady has it in his contract that he cannot be hit with the franchise or transition tag (a designation a team may apply to a player scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent) and some of the other free agents to-be who could be possibilities are Joe Thuney, Devin McCourty, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.
Of those, Thuney would make the most sense, but it seems unlikely to happen.
If the tag were to be placed on Thuney, it would cost the Patriots roughly $16 million, as that is the number for offensive linemen. That doesn't feel like something the Patriots would do for a few reasons. No. 1, that's likely overpaying for Thuney and No. 2, they don't really have the cap space to be throwing around $16 million like that.
Thuney is going to get paid this offseason, likely in the $15 million per year range, as he's one of the best guards on the market. It seems unlikely the Patriots will be able to come close to that number, so it is expected he will sign elsewhere.
The same reasons for not placing the franchise tag on Thuney go for some of the other free agents to be as well. The Patriots haven't used the tag much of late, either.
Here's a list of the players they have used it on in recent years, and what happened after.
2015: Stephen Gostkowski - Signed multi-year extension
2012: Wes Welker - Played under the tag, but departed as a free agent the next offseason
2011: Logan Mankins - Signed an extension after a hold out
2010: Vince Wilfork - Signed a multi-year extension
2009: Matt Cassel - Traded with Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for a second-round pick