New England Patriots Weighing Decision on Franchise Tag


The New England Patriots, like all other 31 teams in the league, have until 4:00 PM EST today to designate a franchise tag either on Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer or Aqib Talib. Per Comcast SportsNet Tom Curran, the Patriots are still debating whether to use the tag.

Nov 18, 2012; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick congratulates cornerback Aqib Talib (31) after his punt return for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Frankly, the team will not apply the $11.4 million tag on Welker as contract negotiations were in progress as previously reported last week by Ian Rapoport.

When weighing the options between Sebastian Vollmer, whose franchise tag is $9.1 million, and Aqib Talib, a costly $10.85 million for non-exclusive tender or $9.1 million for a transition tag, the scenario that the Patriots would this amount for either one very doubtful.

Already under contract for 2013 and 2014, the organization just got a grasp of fresh air with Tom Brady’s three-year contract extension worth $57 million overall, which allows the Patriots to save $15 million in cap dollars over the next two seasons. Another possible savings is the possibility of “letting Brandon Lloyd go” due to “erratic behavior”, a contract stipulation that gives the team an out, which in return the team does not have to pay Lloyd his $3 million option bonus and due salary of $1.9 million. That’s $4.9 million that doesn’t go against the cap for this season.

Opting out of the franchise tag, the team can then capitalize on its saving and offer a deal for those players, while still being able to navigate freely in free agency and the upcoming draft.

Starting on March 9 teams are allowed to start negotiating with agents of the players set to hit free market, which gives the team more leverage to lock them up before they can start negotiating with other teams.

As time is running out, I look forward to hearing news on a Welker, Talib and Vollmer deal. Once we get these deals in place, it will be easier to tackle other flaws in the roster.

Follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook