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NFL New England Patriots

New England Patriots Decline to Use Franchise Tag

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2008, the New England Patriots declined to assign their franchise tag to a pending free agent.

In what looks to be a solid free agent crop for this squad, they’ll attempt to re-sign their three big fish: Wes Welker, Sebastian Vollmer and Aqib Talib. And with Tom Brady stretching his earnings throughout the next few years, the team now has the cap space to re-sign the three aforementioned to long-term deals.

If one of the three would have been hit with the franchise tag, they each would have earned at least $10 million a piece, putting a nice sized hole into New England’s cap space.

Now the duties of this team will be to bring back all three players, all of whom are an intricate part of this team’s success. Vollmer is best at protecting Brady in the pocket, Welker has been key to the passing game since his arrival in 2007 and Aqib Talib is the most impactful secondary player the team has. While Welker and Vollmer may be held to a higher regard, Talib’s impact is most important if this team wants to win a Super Bowl. Look at the difference between the passing defense before and after he gets hurt in the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens.

After these three players are taken care of, filling in the gaps the team needs most (secondary, pass rusher, deep threat receiver), this team can get back to competing in the league and possibly becoming the favorites to win the Super Bowl again.