The New England Patriots have some big decisions to make this offseason, including what (if anything) to do with the franchise tag.

Some have suggested the Patriots should use the designation on either offensive tackle Trent Brown or defensive end Trey Flowers, two free agents who likely will garner significant interest on the open market. But New England, as it often does, could go the unconventional rout.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss, for one, believes kicker Stephen Gostkowski is a strong candidate to receiver the franchise tag.

Here’s what the Patriots beat reporter wrote in a column published Monday morning:

“The Patriots could strike an extension with Gostkowski before free agency, but if they don’t, assigning him the franchise tag would help them maintain some leverage to keep him in the fold in 2019. While the tag of about $5 million is richer than the club would project to pay on an annual basis as part of a multiyear deal, it could be a placeholder until the sides hammer out a longer pact. Some might ask, “Why not DE Trey Flowers or OT Trent Brown?” The thinking is that their franchise-tag numbers would be too high for the team’s liking.”

Ultimately, Reiss believes the Patriots will sign Gostkowski to an extension, rather than slap him with the franchise tag.

Regardless, Gostkowski is one of just many players on whom the Patriots must make decisions.

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