The New England Patriots officially used their franchise tag on guard Logan Mankins, and he remained the only NFL player with the designation as Monday's close of business approached, according to a league source.
The Patriots later confirmed that they placed the tag on the three-time Pro Bowl lineman, who missed nearly half of last season while mired in a contract dispute with the team.
"Logan Mankins is a tremendous player," the Patriots said in a statement. "He has been a fixture on our offensive line since we drafted him in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he remains an important part of our future plans. Unfortunately, we have not been able to reach a long-term agreement, despite many attempts and proposals by both sides. That remains our objective in utilizing the franchise designation, and we are hopeful that Logan will be a Patriot for many years to come."
More franchise tags will follow throughout the NFL. The league advised teams that they have until Feb. 24 to tag players. Several teams will wait until the deadline in an effort to negotiate new deals with the players they would otherwise tag.
The NFL Players Association has rejected the use of the franchise tag, and it remains to be seen whether or not it will be a part of the next collective bargaining agreement, although many expect it to be. The NFLPA expects offensive lineman such as Mankins to receive $10.1 million under the tag.
Mankins said earlier this month that he believes the Patriots are unlikely to be involved in any bidding wars.
"I would never say the door is totally shut," he said. "But the way it's looking right now, I don't see it happening. I don't see them trying to keep me, unless it's with the franchise tag."
Mankins was a restricted free agent following the 2009 season, and he and the team couldn't agree on a contract. The six-year veteran eventually signed a reduced-tender offer in November and returned for the final nine regular-season games to accrue another season in order to qualify for unrestricted free agency this offseason.
Mankins, a six-year pro, has never missed a start in an NFL game in which he was eligible to play.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.