Today is the first day that NFL teams can designate franchise players for the coming season.
The Patriots have three players who would be candidates for the tag: CB Aqib Talib, OT Sebastian Vollmer and WR Wes Welker.
Welker was the team’s franchise player last season, given a one-year, fully guaranteed $9.515 million. But if he were to be franchised again, it would be at 120 percent of last year’s salary, which is $11.42 million.
That number makes it hard to see him being the player tagged this year.
Talib made an impact for the Patriots in his games with the team, but there are injury concerns with the former first-round pick, as well as concerns about his past on- and off-field issues. The franchise number for corners is expected to be around $10.7 million.
Vollmer also has health concerns thanks to his history of back troubles, but when healthy he has been a standout for New England at right tackle and can also play some left tackle. That versatility will likely make him quite appealing to other teams. The Patriots can franchise him for an estimated $9.66 million (franchise amounts will be finalized next month).
Teams can only franchise one player per year.