The Patriots elected not to exercise their option of placing either the Franchise or the Transition tag on their prospective free agents while negotiations continue.
"It just didn't feel like the right thing to do," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We considered all our options and decided not to tag anybody."
Adam Vinatieri was "tagged" last year, but not this time. He played under the franchise designation in 2005 earning a one-year salary of approximately $2.5 million.
The ramifications of using the tag is akin to the team saying "hands off" to other teams interested in signing a tagged player. The franchise tag carries higher compensation in terms of draft picks a potential suitor would have to fork over to the franchised player's current team.
With either tag, the financial cost can sometimes be too much for the current team. Such may have been the case with Vinatieri. Last year, New England franchised Vinatieri which guaranteed him either a 20% raise or the average of the top five players at his position, whichever was more. The cost to franchise Vinatieri for 2006 would have been a little over $3 million in salary. That salary would have counted against the cap unlike a structured deal that could be setup to reduce a team's current cap charge.
The Patriots are one of a number of teams looking to find cap space not use it up. Franchising Vinatieri would have been counterproductive to that end.
If a new deal cannot be reached before March 3rd - something that appears less likely - the Patriots kicker will be free to sign with another team. The Cowboys are one of a number of teams hot on Vinatieri's trail should New England not come to an agreement in time.
The other player in the mix is wide receiver David Givens. Givens, like Vinatieri, is set to become a free agent in March. While the receiver has said he would like to return to play for the Patriots again, that is unlikely without a new deal that pays him accordingly. Givens played under a one-year tender for restricted free agents
The talk in league circles is that Givens is the best free agent receiver on the market now that Reggie Wayne agreed to return to the Colts.
If Givens is in it for the money, he's all done catching passes from Tom Brady. If he's willing to give New England a chance to come close to a reasonable offer for his services, it's possible he could return.
Stay tuned to Patriots Insider for more on the Patriot's free agent situation and the team's options.