The NFL franchise tag deadline came and went Wednesday at 4 p.m., and the New England Patriots, as expected, elected not to use the designation on any of their free agents.

The most likely candidates to be tagged on the Patriots were linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Martellus Bennett. Both will hit free agency March 9 at 4 p.m. if they can’t reach an extension with the Patriots beforehand.

Seven free agents were franchised prior to the deadline.

Arizona Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones
Carolina Panthers DT Kawann Short
Los Angeles Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram
Los Angeles Rams CB Trumaine Johnson
New York Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell
Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images