Last year, the Patriots waited until the final day they could use the franchise tag before slapping it on Wes Welker.

One year later, they have again arrived at the 11th hour. The Patriots have yet to designate anyone, and they could very well take a pass this time. Teams have until 4 p.m. today to apply the tag or lose it. Thus far, there hasn’t been much activity league-wide with the tag, but that could change.

What will Bill Belichick do?

We’ve learned it won’t be Welker, as the Pats don’t want any part of the $11.4 million price tag for a one-year deal, so that really leaves Aqib Talib or Sebastian Vollmer in the realm for a franchise or transition tag.

Both are also costly propositions. Talib’s franchise tag hit would be $10.85 million for a non-exclusive tender. If Talib signs an offer sheet from another team, the Pats can match the terms. If not, the team that signs Talib would have to surrender two first-round draft picks. That’s an unlikely scenario.

If they go with the $9.1 million for a transition tag, they’d still have the right to match, but would receive no compensation if Talib signed an offer elsewhere. It’s doubtful the Pats want to pay Talib either amount. Same with Vollmer, whose franchise tag number is $9.8 million.

With more cap space available due to Tom Brady’s extension, and another $4.9 million against the cap saved if they don’t pick up Brandon Lloyd’s $3 million option bonus, which appears likely, the Pats could take a pass on tagging a player. Then they’d roll the dice on working out a deal for those players, or find others at more suitable prices.