A league-record 21 players were given franchise tags by the time Monday’s franchise period expired. The 2012 free agency class remains strong, though.
Here’s look at what’s left:
1. Defensive end Mario Williams — Has 53 career sacks and is only 27 years old. Williams will be the most aggressively pursued free agent once the signing period opens on March 13.
2. Wide receiver Vincent Jackson — Big-play receiver with rare size and vertical skills. Jackson averages 17.5 yards per reception for his career and is a legit No. 1 wideout. The Chicago Bears are expected to show interest.
3. Guard Carl Nicks — A mauler at 6-foot-5 and 343 pounds, Nicks is deceptively athletic for his size. He wants to be the NFL’s highest paid interior offensive lineman, which is reasonable because he’s only 27 years old and one of the top three guards in football.
4. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan — Finnegan is one of the top slot corners in the game, a playmaker (15 career interceptions), and an aggressive, efficient tackler. Versatile enough to hold his own outside against top NFL receivers, Finnegan is the premier cornerback on the market.
5. Tackle Jared Gaither — Gaither has a checkered history in terms of health and mental reliability, but he’s built like Jonathan Ogden with All-Pro caliber talent. The Chargers want him back, and their sense of urgency will increase if they’re forced to release longtime left tackle Marcus McNeill.
6. Guard Ben Grubbs — Grubbs is only a one-time Pro Bowler (2012), but he’s consistently played at a Pro Bowl-caliber level as a 70-game starter in Baltimore. Grubbs is fundamentally sound and athletic enough to appeal to both power- and zone-blocking teams.
7. Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd — Lloyd has been an NFL late bloomer and turns 31 before the season, but he’s amassed 2,414 receiving yards and scored 16 touchdowns over the past two seasons amid turbulent quarterback play.
8. Cornerback Brandon Carr — Carr is Finnegan’s primary competition to be the top-rated cornerback on the market. Though not a big playmaker in coverage (eight career picks), Carr has plus size (6-foot, 207) and experience as both a press-man and zone corner.
9. Wide receiver Marques Colston — Colston has been incredibly productive in New Orleans, but there are buyer-beware warnings. He turns 29 before the season, has undergone five career knee surgeries, and racked up stats as a single-covered slot receiver in the Saints’ spread offense. Colston is not a vertical threat.
10. Quarterback Matt Flynn — Flynn has started only two career games, but he engineered a Week Seventeen shootout win over the playoff-bound Lions and narrowly lost to the Patriots in 2010. He’s thrown nine career touchdown passes compared to five interceptions while averaging a robust 7.69 yards per attempt.