UPDATE: Monday, 2 p.m.
The Tennessee Titans have extended the franchise tag to safety Michael Griffin, meaning cornerback Cortland Finnegan will become a free agent on March 13 unless he signs a new contract befpre the deadline.

There have also been reports the New England Patriots have franchised wide receiver Wes Welker, but the etam has yet to confirm the move.

UPDATED: Monday, 12:15 p.m.
Contract signings and more franchise designations have kicked off what is expected to be a busy Monday in the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills reached a contract agreement with wide receiver Stevie Johnson, while the Houston Texans did the same with running back Arian Foster.

Those receiving franchise designations are Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril, Denver kicker Matt Prater, Jacksonville kicker Josh Scobee.

The deadline for franchise tags to be tendered is 3 p.m.

With the deadline Monday for NFL teams to designate franchise players, there was a flurry of activity over the weekend although the Rams, not surprisingly, appear to have decided not to franchise wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.

One day after the Philadelphia Eagles became the first team to announce a franchise tag (for wide receiver DeSean Jackson), nine teams revealed their intentions on Friday and the New Orleans Saints followed that on Saturday by placing the exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Drew Brees.

This despite teams still not knowing the precise value of the franchise tenders. Those will be known when the salary-cap is set, which is expected to be sometime this week.
The 2011 league year ends at 3 p.m. Central time March 13, and once the new league year begins, all teams must be compliant with the cap for their top 51 players.

The franchise players aside from Jackson and Brees are Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell, Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes, Baltimore running back Ray Rice, Chicago running back Matt Forte, Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent, Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson, Oakland safety Tyvon Branch, San Francisco safety Dashon Goldson and Washington tight end Fred Davis.

The Seattle Seahawks avoided having to place the tag on running back Marshawn Lynch when a contract was agreed to Sunday worth $31 million over four years with $18 million guaranteed.

Said Seahawks general manager John Schneider, We are excited to keep Marshawn as part of what we are building. This is what we were hoping for when we acquired him from Buffalo."
For those with non-exclusive franchise tags, once the league year begins, they can negotiate with other teams, but if an offer sheet is presented and not matched, the compensation is two first-round draft picks. Most franchise players eventually sign long-term deals with their original team, with the deadline for that being July 15.

Said Bears general manager, "Matt is an important part of our football team and we chose to utilize the franchise tag to ensure he remains a Bear. We believe in Matt as a player and a person. Our intention is to continue to work to find common ground and keep Matt as a member of the Chicago Bears in 2012 and beyond."

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said the team’s goal is to sign Rice to a long-term deal.
"As we have in the past, placing the franchise designation on a player allows us to keep negotiating on a long-term contract,” Newsome said. “Our goal is to keep Ray Rice a Raven. We've done this with other outstanding players through our history, including Haloti Ngata a year ago."

Goldson reportedly rejected a five-year, $25 million offer last summer after the lockout ended. Recently, he fired agent Drew Rosenhaus and changed to CAA.

"Dashon has been a 49er since we selected him in the fourth round of the 2007 draft," said ***** general manager Trent Baalke. "By using the franchise tag on Dashon, it affords us the opportunity to continue to work on a long-term contract with him, while also ensuring he will be a 49er for a sixth season, in 2012."

It's notable that two kickers were franchised, and another three might get tags Monday: denver's Matt Prater, Jacksonville's Josh Scobee and Tampa Bay's Connor Barth. Other players considered candidates to receive the tag by the deadline are Buffalo wide receiver Stevie Johnson, Dallas linebacker Anthony Spencer, Detroit wide receiver Cliff Avril, Houston running back Arian Foster, Kansas City wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, New England wide receiver Wes Welker, New York Jets nose tackle Sione Pouha and either cornerback Cortland Finnegan or safety Michael Griffin of Tennessee.

Reports are that San Diego has decided not to franchise wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Also on Friday, the Pittsburgh Steelers officially terminated the contracts of wide receiver Hines Ward, linebacker James Farrior, defensive end Aaron Smith and guard Chris Kemoeatu.
The Ravens released cornerback Chris Carr and wide receiver Lee Evans