The NFL required all 32 teams to make their franchise tag declarations as of 4 p.m. eastern time on Monday afternoon.  Teams are not required to use the franchise tag but this season 21 of the 32 teams did tag a player.  In previous seasons, fewer teams have tagged players, like 2008 only 12 teams decided to employ the franchise tag.

There are two types of franchise tags, an exclusive franchise tag and a non-exclusive franchise tag.  The exclusive tag limits the player to only negotiate with his current team and if no long-term contract is reached the team has to pay him the average of the Top 5 salaries for the current year for the position.

The non-exclusive tag allows the player to negotiate with any team but the price is steep for the new team.  They have to give up 2 number one draft picks by signing another teams franchise player.  If the player can not reach an agreement with another team he can opt to sign the franchise tender giving him a one-year contract at the average of the Top 5 salaries of the previous year for the position.

Players who have received the franchise tag from their teams can continue to negotiate a long-term contract with their team until July 15.

Here are the 21 players who have been given the franchise tag by their current team heading into free agency.

  • Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots catches a pass despite the defense of Kevin Burnett #56 of the Miami Dolphins in the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Share this pageWR Wes Welker – New England
  • K Josh Scobee – Jacksonville
  • K Connor Barth – Tampa Bay
  • LB Anthony Spencer – Dallas
  • K Matt Prater – Denver
  • QB Drew Brees – New Orleans
  • K Phil Dawson – Cleveland
  • K Mike Nugent – Cincinnati
  • DE Calais Campbell – Arizona
  • RB Matt Forte – Chicago
  • RB Ray Rice – Baltimore
  • TE Fred Davis – Washington
  • CB Brent Grimes – Atlanta
  • S Tyvon Branch – Oakland
  • WR DeSean Jackson – Philadelphia
  • S Dashon Goldson – San Francisco
  • S Michael Griffin – Tennessee
  • WR Dwayne Bowe – Kansas City
  • DE Robert Mathis – Indianapolis
  • DE Cliff Avril – Detroit
  • P Steve Weatherford – New York Giants

At this time only Brees and Branch are believed to have been given the exclusive franchise player tag.

It is expected that the Patriots will continue to negotiate a long-term deal with Welker.  By giving him the non-exclusive tag it allows Welker to see how other teams view him financially as compared to New England.  As a slot receiver pushing 31 years of age it is not expected to have many teams willing to give him big dollars over a long period.  The Patriots would probably be willing to do 3 years for around $20 million with $12-$14 million in guarantees.

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Photo credit: Getty Images