Drew Brees, Wes Welker, Dwayne Bowe, Ray Rice and Matt Forte are among the franchised stars who, barring a major shift in negotiations, won't be present when their teams open offseason work, according to league sources. It would take an unforeseen degree of progress in talks over the weekend to get any of them signed long-term -- a scenario that is highly unlikely at this point.
Brees and the New Orleans Saints, for instance, have been at loggerheads, roughly $5 million per season apart on a long-term deal, according to league sources. Welker and the New England Patriots have also made little progress; a source with knowledge of those conversations believes Welker will most likely play this season on the franchise tag. Running backs especially face a tricky situation. The franchise-tag value for them is around $7 million, a bargain for their employers. Teams could place the franchise tag on players like Rice and Forte in back-to-back seasons, securing their services from 2012 through 2013 at a total cost of around $17 million.