BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots won’t be using their franchise tag this year.

About an hour before the 4 p.m. deadline, ESPN’s Field Yates and Adam Schefter reported that the team will not be applying the tag on any of their impending free agents. As a result, Trey Flowers, Stephen Gostkowski, and Trent Brown will all become free agents.

Flowers, 25, was drafted by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL draft out of Arkansas. He played in just one game as a rookie but has since developed into a crucial member of the New England defense.

He recorded seven sacks and 14 QB hits in 2016, 6.5 sacks and 25 QB hits in 2017, and 7.5 sacks and 20 QB hits in 2018. He also has 5.5 sacks in nine playoff games, including 2.5 sacks of Matt Ryan to help the Patriots in their 28-3 comeback over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI and a sack of Patrick Mahomes in this past season’s AFC title game to force the Chiefs out of field-goal range before halftime.

With Jadeveon Clowney (Houston), DeMarcus Lawrence (Dallas), Frank Clark (Seattle) and Dee Ford (Kansas City) all getting hit with the franchise tag in recent days, Flowers is set to become by far the most sought-after free-agent defensive end on the market.

FRANCHISE TAGS USED DURING BILL BELICHICK’S TENURE
2002: Adam Vinatieri, kicker
2003: Tebucky Jones, safety
2005: Adam Vinatieri, kicker
2007: Asante Samuel, cornerback
2009: Matt Cassel, quarterback
2010: Vince Wilfork, defensive tackle
2011: Logan Mankins, guard
2012: Wes Welker, wide receiver
2015: Stephen Gostkowski, kicker

Gostkowski, 35, was drafted by the Patriots in the 2006 draft. He is the Patriots’ all-time leader in field goals made, and he owns the third-best field goal percentage in NFL history.

Brown, 25, was acquired by the Patriots along with a fifth-round pick in exchange for a third-round pick last year. He played all 16 regular-season games and all three playoff games at left tackle for the Patriots, taking 97.32 percent of the team’s offensive snaps.

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