The Vikings, meanwhile, couldn't tag important pieces like Loadholt and Felton because the NFL doesn't differentiate between left and right tackles or fullbacks and running backs. Guaranteeing Clady-like money for a right tackle like Loadholt is just not financially viable, and giving running back money to a lead-isolation option at fullback, even the NFL's best like Felton, is a non-starter.
The New England Patriots didn't use the franchise tag on any of their potential free agents, but rumors persist they are close to a deal with slot receiver Wes Welker. Offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer and cornerback Aqib Talib, however, remain very attractive options for outsiders.
Detroit, which has the No. 5 overall pick in April's NFL draft, decided against franchising Cliff Avril for a second straight year, something that would have cost the franchise $12.726 million. Letting Avril walk in the coming days could signal the Lions are high on at least one of the pass- rushing options available in the draft, perhaps Georgia star Jarvis Jones or Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner.
Other players franchised in 2012 who were not tagged again were Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes, Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent, Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson and Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis. Grimes, Nugent and Davis, finished the 2012 season on the sidelines, so injuries were a concern.
In Kansas City, the new brain trust of Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey was the big winner, locking up one of the best punters in the game -- Colquitt -- before bringing back a top-tier receiving threat -- Bowe -- for new quarterback Alex Smith.
Those signings also enabled the Chiefs to tag Albert and explore their options on draft day. Kansas City, which currently has the No. 1 overall pick, could select Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel and slide Albert inside or snare the best available defender to pair with solid pass rushers like Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.