2012 NFL Free Agents: New England Patriots to Franchise Wes Welker Despite Drop

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI is still fresh in the minds of New England Patriots players and fans, but apparently not in management's.

The Boston Herald’s Greg Bedard joined the Armando and Perkins radio show on 640 AM in Miami this morning to talk about the Patriots' decision to place the franchise tag on much-maligned wide receiver Wes Welker:

"He's going to be tagged, that I know for pretty much certain," said Bedard, who clarified that it's the franchise tag the Pats would use. "If they don't, he's going to sign with the Jets and they're going to have to try and cover him twice a year, or the Dolphins ... They want him back. I don't see why things would change now, but the way it stood before the Super Bowl, they're going to tag him."

The Pats are reluctant to give Welker the fat multi-year deal to be paid like a top wide receiver—even though he has numbers like one. He has put up at least 1000 yards receiving in four of the last five seasons, and his 1569-yard total was good enough for second in the league in 2011.

Yet, fans can’t get over the now infamous missed opportunity in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl. It will forever be debated whether the throw that would have all but clinched the championship was too high—and, thus, Tom Brady’s fault—or catchable, placing the blame on Welker.

I’m not going to rehash all of the arguments, but I do know that it would have been one of the most memorable catches in Super Bowl history if Welker had made it.

Fans need to remember that it was the only throw in his direction he didn’t catch that day, and his willingness to man up after the game tells you everything you need to know about his passion and accountability.

So, while he’ll be paid like a top five wide receiver this season, he needs to have yet another monster season to ensure a long-term deal.

At the age of 30, time is beginning to run out. 

 

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