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Words With Frenz mailbag: Should the Patriots use the franchise tag this year?

Posted by Erik Frenz  February 7, 2014 08:00 AM

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Even with the lull of the offseason beginning to set in, the pace will pick up quickly.

The 2013 scouting combine is in less than two weeks, which means full-speed-ahead on the NFL draft. The combine also marks the beginning of the "legal tampering" period, where teams can negotiate player contracts with the agents, but cannot actually sign the deals.

We just got done with the main course, and dessert is being made.

The New England Patriots have the whole offseason ahead of them, but they don't have much time to waste before they have to come up with the answers to some key questions.

Here are some of the questions on the mind of NFL fans on the eve of free agency.

Sidney, They skipped using the franchise tag last year, and this could be the second year in a row because it doesn't feel like anyone is a viable option for the tag this year.

It would cost around $11 million to put the tag on either Aqib Talib or Julian Edelman. That number is just too high for either one. The Patriots are tight up against the cap, with around $5 million in space for the 2014 offseason at this point (based on a rumored 126.3 million salary cap).

If they're going to use it on one player or the other, it would make more sense for it to be Talib, perhaps as a bridge to a long-term deal if the two sides need more time to reach an agreement.

Matt, the Patriots could justify bringing Ryan Wendell back on a one- or two-year deal. With top-line centers like Cleveland's Alex Mack, Green Bay's Evan Dietrich-Smith and New Orleans' Brian De La Puente all available, the market for Wendell may not be too rich. Wendell wasn't great in 2013, but there's something to be said for continuity on the offensive line.

That being said, the Patriots need to bolster the depth on the interior of the offensive line with an eye toward developing new starting talent. Along with Wendell, guard Dan Connolly is due to count for $4.083 million against the salary cap; If they're unable to restructure his contract and feel they're better off releasing him, the Patriots could be lining up with two new starters on the inside next season.

The only player that showed up in a Pro Football Reference search for my exact birthday (Apr. 3, 1986) was Titans fullback Collin Mooney, who has five career rushes and six receptions to his name.

However, former All-Pro defensive end Jared Allen is also an Apr. 3 baby, as is former Patriots tight end Russ Francis. That's pretty good company, I'd say.

I'm absolutely the last person you should be asking for relationship advice, but maybe Boston.com's Karen Polewaczyk can be of service.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Erik Frenz delivers analysis of the biggest news with the Patriots, including insight into the AFC East and New England's biggest rivals from a Patriots perspective. Erik is an interactive writer who engages his audience in his posts’ comments sections and on Twitter. Readers are encouraged to share their thoughts and ask questions. More »


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