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Instead of using franchise tag, Patriots are expected to try to sign players

Some thoughts on the Patriots deciding not to use the franchise or transition tag for the first time since 2008, which was expected:

— With only eight franchise tags being issued league-wide, that’s further evidence that most front offices think the supply will outweigh the demand this year on the free-agent market. The franchise tags are just too rich at several positions, specifically receiver and cornerback;

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— I expect the Patriots to be trying to hammer out deals with WR Wes Welker, CB Aqib Talib, RT Sebastian Vollmer, CB Kyle Arrington and WR Julian Edelman before free agency starts a week from today;

— Welker stands the best chance to get done, and I’d be fairly surprised if it’s not done by the start of free agency or very early in the period;

— Have a hard time seeing Talib and Vollmer agreeing to a deal before at least seeing what other teams have to offer during the Friday-Monday legal tampering period. Talib especially wants to maximize his value. Vollmer could take a deal fearing a watered down market, but I doubt it;

— I think the Patriots feel they might be able to get two or three good cornerbacks for the price of one Talib – without the baggage;

— Vollmer’s a very good player when healthy, but what exactly is the prognosis for his back? Only the team knows. In any event, right tackles should be replaceable though Vollmer’s real value is that he can play left tackle well if needed. Somebody might pay him to play left tackle. I wouldn’t doubt that at all;

— The Patriots feel very confident in Marcus Cannon taking over at right tackle. I don’t share that same optimism, but my resume is a square of toilet paper compared to line coach Dante Scarnecchia. I wouldn’t rule out a draft pick there.

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