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Patriots place transition tag on safety Kyle Dugger

In the first substantial move of the Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf era in New England, the Patriots are using the transition tag.

The Pats are placing the transition tag on Kyle Dugger, keeping the safety off the market and giving them a chance to match any offers, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo reported Tuesday, per sources. The team later announced the news.

"Kyle is a talented player with a strong work ethic who has improved every year and been extremely productive since joining our team in 2020," Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo said in a statement. "We value players with high character and chose to use the transition designation to give both sides more time to try to reach a long-term agreement, which is our goal with Kyle."

Dugger will earn $13.8 million for the transition tag in 2024 and he and the Patriots have until July 17 to work out a long-term deal. The transition tag is a one-year tender offer for the average of the top 10 salaries at the position, as opposed to the top five for the franchise tag.

Using the tag on Dugger also means offensive lineman Mike Onwenu, the Patriots' other pressing impending free agent, will hit the open market if an extension can't be worked out ahead the start of the legal tampering period on Monday.

It's the first time New England will have used a tag since placing it on Joe Thuney ahead of the 2020 season.

Though the Patriots have gone five seasons without a playoff win, their defense remained formidable and Dugger has become a lynchpin.

The 27-year-old is coming off perhaps his best season yet, as he started all 17 games, recorded a career-best 109 tackles and added two interceptions, 1.5 sacks and five QB hits.

Thus, Wolf, the team's director of scouting, and Mayo, who's been on the Patriots staff for the duration of Dugger's career, have chosen to ensure the 2020 NFL Draft second-rounder is staying put in Boston.

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