Not Aqib Talib. Not Sebastian Vollmer. Not Wes Welker.
The deadline to franchise players came and went on Monday afternoon, and the Patriots didn't budge. For the first time since 2008, the team chose not to use its franchise tag.
That the Patriots did not apply the tag comes as no real surprise. The price to franchise any of New England's three prime candidates for the tag -- Talib, Vollmer and Welker -- in the end proved to be too costly. For Talib, the tag would have been worth $10.8 million. For Vollmer, it would have been $9.8. And Welker, who played under the franchise tag last season, would have been paid $11.4 million guaranteed if he had been tagged again.
Negotiations between the Patriots and their free-agents-to-be can continue through March 9, when they will then be allowed to begin negotiations with other teams across the league. Contracts will officially expire on March 12, at which point new deals may be announced.