Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/4/13
The start of NFL free agency is a little over a week away, and the Patriots’ three biggest free agents appear headed to the open market. The Patriots decided against using the franchise tag for the first time in five years on Monday. That leaves Wes Welker, Aqib Talib and Sebastian Vollmer all staring down the possibility of free agency. Welker, 31, was close to this scenario last offseason, but the Patriots slapped the franchise tag on him before he even had the chance to hit the open market. This time around, it seems that the Patriots might be willing to take their chances with their All-Pro wideout and two of the other keys to their AFC Championship run last season. The Patriots do have close to $25 million in salary cap space to work with this offseason after Tom Brady agreed to a new three-year extension. All indications are that the team does intend to use that money to improve their team for the near future, including retaining Welker, Talib and signing on some other big-name free agents. It seems that Welker has made progress on a new deal with the Pats in recent weeks, which could back up the decision against tagging him.  As for Talib and Vollmer, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what their futures hold. The Patriots can continue to negotiate a new deal with each of their free agents, including the likes of Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead and Kyle Arrington among others, until the start of free agency at 4 p.m. on March 12. There is no telling what the coming week will have in store, but there will certainly be some intrigue surrounding the Patriots. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Rams WR Stedman Bailey in hospital after being shot in head

Furious Brad Stevens blasts Celtics after lackluster game

Did Bryce Harper deserve the MVP?

Duke 5-star commit posts moving message after successful surgery

Ex-LSU commit still supports Les Miles

Report: Ray Lewis gave Bills pregame pep talk


Report: Marshawn Lynch out a few weeks to recover

Peyton Manning to miss at least two more weeks

Notre Dame DT: Committee 'spit in our faces' with ranking

LaRon Landry suspended indefinitely by NFL

Don’t blame Mike Pettine for benching Johnny Manziel. Blame Johnny.

Danny Ainge: Celtics’ Marcus Smart has shown ‘propensity to get injured’

Nick Young seems to take shot at Kobe Bryant

WATCH: College basketball player makes 3-pointer while wobbly from concussion

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

Clemson WR calls South Carolina fans 'rude'

Jonathan Lucroy trade market bolstered by weak catching market

Michigan State lists two starting QBs on depth chart

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

LISTEN: Browns fan cries on radio while ripping Johnny Manziel

Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen says he was injured vs. Alabama

Report: Maple Leafs are no longer the NHL’s most valuable franchise

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Did a Chipotle employee convince Danny Ainge to trade for Isaiah Thomas?

Bud Black joins Angels organization as special assistant to GM

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five most overrated teams in the Week 13 coaches' poll

10 storylines for Week 13 of the college football season

Ranking the 10 best games of 2015 college football rivalry week

Examining the Mavericks' hot start

Johnny Bench(ed): Manziel demoted to third string

Mike Trout, four years in

Tom Brady on ‘Rex Ryan!’ line call: It’s ‘in the playbook’

Five NFL teams trending downward

Not so fast, USC: Eagles Chip Kelly buys Philly-area home

The five best hockey fights from Week 7

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker