The New England Patriots do not plan to use the franchise tag on any of their impending free agents, according to multiple reports Tuesday afternoon.
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran and ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates reported defensive end Trey Flowers, left tackle Trent Brown and kicker Stephen Gostkowski all will go untagged. All three are set to hit free agency when the NFL league year opens next Wednesday.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport earlier in the day reported the Patriots would not use the tag on Gostkowski — their kicker since 2006 — but had not ruled out using it on another player. Flowers and Brown were the only other viable options, but tagging either likely would cost more than New England would be willing to pay.
The franchise tag locks up a player to a guaranteed one-year contract. Teams later can choose to sign the player to a long-term deal, as the Patriots did with Gostkowski in 2015. Franchised players also can be traded. New England did that with quarterback Matt Cassel in 2009.
There’s still a chance the Patriots could come to terms with Gostkowski, Flowers or Brown on a contract extension before free agency begins. It’s likely, however, that at least Flowers and Brown will hit the open market.