Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/1/13
The deadline to slap the franchise tag on players around the NFL is fast approaching, and the Patriots remain mum on that front. Monday, March 4, marks the last day for teams to designate their franchise players, and the Patriots would seem like prime candidates to do a little designating of their own. Cornerback Aqib Talib, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and wide receiver Wes Welker are all headed for the free-agent market this offseason, if Bill Belichick doesn’t hit one of them with the tag before free agency opens on March 12. Welker was the recipient of the tag last offseason, making a cool $9.5 million in the process, but with a 20 percent raise expected if he is tagged again it’s unlikely he’ll be franchised for a second straight season. As for the two other potential tagees — yes, it’s a word –, the Patriots would love to have both of them back in 2013. But at what cost? The franchise number for cornerbacks this season is $10.85 million and the number for offensive lineman — yes they are all lumped together — is $9.82 million. So, the Patriots would be paying a hefty wage in order to retain either player, which could be a major deterrent even with almost $25 million in salary cap space this offseason. Even so, the Patriots have three days left to slap that tag on one of their big name free agents. Which player would you like to see the Patriots designate with the franchise tag? Take Our Poll Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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