FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- One of the first significant dates of the NFL offseason comes this week, as Tuesday marks the first day clubs can place the franchise or transition tag on players scheduled for unrestricted free agency. This is expected to pass without the New England Patriots using the tag.
Their top candidate, left tackle Nate Solder, cannot be assigned the tag based on the terms of the extension he signed in 2015. Had that been an option, perhaps the Patriots would have considered the projected $14.1 million tag for Solder.
Elsewhere, while the Patriots seemingly would like to keep running backs Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, the idea of doing so on the projected franchise tag of $11.9 million is highly unlikely. And after not playing cornerback Malcolm Butler on defense in Super Bowl LII, there is little chance the club would consider a projected $15.04 million tag on him.
Below is a rundown of the Patriots' history with the franchise tag, which highlights how the club hasn't been active using the tag in recent years:
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 following offseason.
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 following offseason.
2015: Kicker Stephen Gostkowski: Signed a multiyear extension.