Breaking: According to Adam Schefter the New England Patriots will not be placing the franchise tag on linebacker Dont'a Hightower. He will be a free agent and test the market.
To me, this news does not entirely comes as a surprise. The franchise tag is based on average salaries of the linebacker position and other players like Von Miller as made the number over $14 million for one year. The Patriots believe in value, and even for Hightower who has been injury prone, that salary is not good value. However, I am shocked the Patriots did not go with the transition tag.
The transition tag, which is an alternative to the franchise tag, would have essentially made Hightower a restricted free agent. He still could explore the market, but the Patriots would still have the right to match any offer he lands. That way, Hightower can check his true market value, and based on that, the Patriots can determine if it is too much. Now, Hightower can sign a new contract with a new team without even a phone call to the Patriots before doing so. One has to think, the franchise tag may be put on another Patriot free agent. The two candidates that come to mind is Legarrette Blount or Martellus Bennett, but no reports have indicated that is the case. Every team has to decide on using their franchise tag by tomorrow, March 1st.