Foxborough, MA (SportsNetwork.com) - The New England Patriots used their franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski prior to Monday's deadline.
Gostkowski will earn $4.126 million next season, according to the widely reported number for kickers, and can still work out a longer deal with the team up until July 15.
The 31-year-old has been New England's kicker for the past nine seasons since the team drafted him in the fourth round in 2006. He has led the NFL in made field goals three times, including each of the past two seasons.
"Stephen has been extremely productive and a vital component to our success since joining our team in 2006," the team said in a statement announcing the move. "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal."
Gostkowski has kicked in three Super Bowls, finally winning one last month against Seattle.