The Detroit Lions declined to use the franchise tag by Monday’s deadline, and they have until 4 p.m. March 12 to keep their 22 unrestricted free agents off the market.

Defensive end Cliff Avril, who played last year on the franchise tag, and safety Louis Delmas were the only realistic candidates for the tag, but general manager Martin Mayhew said he wasn’t planning to use it early this off-season. Avril would have commanded $12.7 million, a 20% raise, in his second year on the tag, and the Lions are leery of committing too much money to Delmas because of his chronic knee problems.

Eight teams used the franchise tag this year, down from 21 last year, including the Bills on safety Jairus Byrd and the Bears on defensive tackle Henry Melton.