Patriots forego using franchise tag on their big three free agents

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The franchise tag deadline has passed, and the New England Patriots decided not to use it – not even on their “big three.”

Defensive end Trey Flowers, offensive tackle Trent Brown and kicker Stephen Gostkowski could now hit the free agent market and explore some options, if they do not come to terms with the team for a new deal over the next few days.

Gostkowski was the last player hit with the franchise tag back in 2015, which was just a placeholder for his four-year $17.2 million deal that he is coming off now. Flowers is sure to attract lots of attention as he has performed at a high level in three seasons as a starter for the Patriots to help them reach two Super Bowl titles. And as for Brown, he served very well as Tom Brady’s blind-side protector. Brown came in this past season to replace Nate
Solder (now with the New York Giants) while starting in all 19 games.

NFL free agency officially starts on March 13. If any of these guys do not reach a new agreement with New England by then, they will be free to test the market.

This has also happened in recent years to safety Devin McCourty in 2015 and Dont’a Hightower in 2017. Both reached free agency before ultimately returning to the Patriots.

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