BOSTON (CBS) — NFL teams have until 4 p.m. on Tuesday to use their franchise tag on an impending free agent. Will the Patriots use their franchise tag for the first time since 2015?

The defending Super Bowl champs have a handful of candidates to apply the franchise tag to, but so far the team has not given any indication that they’ll do so. Here are the prime candidates that could be franchised on Tuesday, along with the salary that will accompany the tag:

Trey Flowers, DE: $17.128
Trent Brown, LT: $14.067
Stephen Gostkowski, K: $5.98 million

Those are some pretty big numbers for Flowers and Brown, so the Patriots will likely let them test the open market before trying to re-sign them, similar to what they’ve done in the past with Devin McCourty, Dont’a Hightower and Nate Solder. It hasn’t always worked in their favor, with Solder signing a monster deal with the Giants last season, but both McCourty and Hightower were brought back on multi-year deals after testing the waters.

That means Gostkowski is the likeliest of candidates to be tagged on Tuesday, as he was back in 2015. Gostkowski carried a $5 million cap hit in 2018, so the franchise tag wouldn’t give him a gigantic raise for the upcoming season. But all of that doesn’t mean the Patriots will actually tag their kicker before 4 p.m.:

NFL free agency officially opens on March 13.


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