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NFL’s game of franchise tag ends Monday

Mike Smith, William Moore

Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith, right, speaks with Falcons strong safety William Moore (25) on the sidelines during an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)


Before Friday, no players had been given the franchise tag. On Friday, five found themselves on the receiving end of the designation that keeps them off the open market.

Tagged are Bills safety Jairus Byrd, Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson, Colts punter Pat McAfee, Broncos left tackle Ryan Clady, and Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton.

So who else could get tagged by 4:00 p.m. ET on Monday? Here’s an updated look.

Falcons: Despite a report that the Falcons won’t use it, we’ve heard they still could. And safety William Moore is the primary candidate.

Ravens: With quarterback Joe Flacco’s deal (nearly) done, the Ravens can use the tag on players like linebacker Paul Kruger or linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, or even safety Ed Reed. G.M. Ozzie Newsome previously has said, however, that the tag will be used on Flacco or no one.

Packers: The team reportedly is considering using the tag on receiver Greg Jennings. G.M. Ted Thompson could be considering a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean he’ll do any of them. Indeed, it would be very far out of character for Thompson to tag Jennings -- unless the end game is to trade him.

Texans: There’s persistent buzz that the Texans will tag safety Glover Quin, or no one.

Chiefs: Receiver Dwayne Bowe and tackle Branden Albert are the primary candidates. If they can sign Bowe quickly, they can tag Albert.

Dolphins: Defensive tackle Randy Starks is a possibility, even if he prefers something more than a one-year deal.

Vikings: Keeping right tackle Phil Loadholt is a priority. Is it big enough of a priority to result in the franchise tag?

Patriots: Despite three candidates (receiver Wes Welker, tackle Sebastian Vollmer, and cornerback Aqib Talib), it wouldn’t surprise us all that much if the Pats use the tag on none of them.

Giants: With left tackle Will Beatty signed, the tag can be used on tight end Martellus Bennett or safety Kenny Phillips, if the Giants are so inclined.

Raiders: At a time when more punters and kickers are getting tagged, the reason is that it’s cheaper than signing quality specialists on the open market. For Shane Lechler, his cap number in 2012 would make the franchise tender $5.88 million -- nearly twice the base franchise tag for punters and kickers.

49ers: Multiple reports have suggested that the Niners won’t use the tag for a second straight year on safety Dashon Goldson.

Seahawks: Kicker Steve Hauschka is the only viable tag candidate.

Rams: If they aren’t using it on receiver Danny Amendola, they aren’t using it on anyone.

Titans: The tag is expected to be placed on tight end Jared Cook, sparking a $4.5 million fight over whether he’s actually a receiver.