The free agent market (if there ends up being one) looks like it's going to be a little thinner. Word on the street is that the Minnesota Vikings will use the transition tag, a cousin of the franchise tag, to retain WR Sidney Rice.
Rice would be one of the top free agent receivers on the market, along with Vincent Jackson, this year if he gets that far. The St. Louis Rams most certainly would have given the 24-year-old some consideration. Like it does every year, the actual free agent market is much different than what it looks like in January as teams make an effort to retain their best players.
Yesterday it was reported that the New England Patriots will likely use the franchise tag on OG Logan Mankins rather than let him hit free agency. That doesn't mean they won't trade him, but there won't be the usual free agent bidding war.
The same report says that the Vikes are likely to use the franchise tag on LB Chad Greenway, who could have also been a free agent of interest to the Rams.
Cross another one off your wish list.
The league year is scheduled to start, free agency and all, on March 4, 2011; however, if owners and the players' union don't have a new CBA in place, free agency will have to wait. There has been some talk that if the two sides are at least close by that date, they'll push back the start of the league year and open the doors for business as usual once they get a new CBA.