The Patriots have decided not to use the franchise tag this offseason, according to a league source. The deadline to designate a franchise player was Monday at 4 p.m. EST.
This marks the first time since 2008 that the Patriots opted not to use the tag. The team placed the franchise tag on wide receiver Wes Welker last offseason, meaning that if it were to do the same this offseason, he would be entitled to a 20 percent raise from his 2012 salary of $9.5 million (paying him $11.4 million in 2013).
Other potential candidates included cornerback Aqib Talib and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. The price tag for cornerbacks was $10.854 million and $9.828 million for offensive linemen under the franchise tag.
The Patriots can continue to negotiate contract extensions with their pending free agents until March 12, at which point they will hit the open market and be free to negotiate with other teams.