- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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As the New England Patriots take their initial steps into building their 2014 roster, one of the next parts of the process will be answering this question: "Are there any free agents that might be considerations for the franchise or transition tags?"
Teams can begin using the tag on Feb. 17. We haven't seen the official franchise-tag numbers at each position, but a projection can be made that puts us in the general ballpark.
That's a big number for a team to absorb on the 2014 salary cap -- it would rank third on the team behind Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork -- which makes us think it's unlikely the Patriots would use the tag.
If they do, Talib would be the more likely option, perhaps in a scenario where it buys the sides more time to work toward a long-term agreement (similar to Wilfork in 2010).
As colleague Field Yates detailed last week, the Patriots' salary-cap situation for 2014 is a bit of a moving target because the NFL has yet to set the actual cap (projections have it ranging from $123 million to $128 million). We know the Patriots have $128 million committed to their cap for 2014, but will get a $4.1 million credit because that is the amount they are rolling over from 2013.
So if the Patriots are indeed considering a franchise tag for someone like Talib, some significant moves would need to be made to create salary-cap space.
At a time when Patriots coaches are currently off, and team offices are a bit quieter than the norm, this is the type of strategic thinking that they will soon be exploring.