While most of the country is at home celebrating President's Day, NFL teams are spending the holiday considering spreading around a lot of dead presidents.
You see, Feb. 18 is the first day that teams can assign their franchise tag - and its corresponding large guaranteed salary - to one of their players.
In New England, that means the first decision is likely whether or not to use the tag on Wes Welker for the second straight season. Welker made $9.5 million playing on the franchise tag a year ago, and is set once again to hit free agency when the new league year begins on March 12. The two ways the two sides can avoid that scenario is either through the franchise tag or by reaching a long term contract agreement.
The Boston Herald reported on Sunday that according to someone with "intimate knowledge of the team's thinking" that the Patriots are not going to put the franchise tag - which would pay approximately $11.4 million for Welker in 2013 - this time around.
Today the Herald also wrote of tagging Welker, "It won't be him. No way they risk paying him the $11.4 million price tag for one season."
Welker, like the Patriots, has been quiet to this point in the process this offseason. Last spring Welker made a variety of comments through the media, including on Twitter when he called his signing of the franchise tender "#leapoffaith." But he's been far less active on Twitter in recent months - aside from some tweets on Texas Tech's recruiting class - and hasn't gone to the media to negotiate verbally.
Welker isn't the only option for New England's franchise tag. The team could use it on one of the other two members of its "Big 3" free agent class. That includes former second-team All-Pro right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and cornerback Aqib Talib, who was given credit for stabilizing the Patriots secondary after joining the team at the trading deadline last fall.
Tagging Vollmer would cost just more than $9.6 million, while the cost for the cornerback Talib would be just more than $10.6 million.
While today is the first day for teams to use the franchise tag, they have until March 4 to make that decision. The franchise tags will likely be a hot topic at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine that begins on Thursday in Indianapolis. Many head coaches and GMs (though generally not the Patriots) hold press conferences in Indy and are grilled on their offseason intentions. PFW will be on the ground at the Combine to bring you all that news from Thursday to Sunday via Patriots.com, this PFW blog and Twitter (@PFW Paul and @JumboHart).
Do you want the Patriots to use the franchise tag on Welker? Talib? Vollmer? Let us know with a comment below!