New England Patriots to Use Franchise Tag on Wes Welker?
ESPN's Adam Schefter said on Friday that he believes the New England Patriots will end up having to use the franchise tag on wide receiver Wes Welker in order to ensure the team retains its top playmaker.
While both sides have shown interest in getting a long-term deal done, they may not be able to get a contract worked out before Welker actually hits the free agent market.
The eight-year veteran will be 31 years old entering the 2012 season, but after a fantastic 2011 he'll want to be paid like one of the top receivers in the league. In the face of that, the $9.4 million the Patriots would owe him under the franchise tag may actually be a bargain.
Welker hauled in an NFL-best 122 catches in 2011 and finished second in receiving yardage (1,569) while scoring nine touchdowns. During his five seasons in New England, the diminutive receiver has averaged nearly 111 receptions and 1,221 yards a year. Those numbers are simply remarkable.
The downside of using the franchise tag is that if the two sides can't work out a long-term contract, New England may be forced to use it on Welker again next season at what is likely to be a much higher price.
ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss believes it would be in the best interests of everyone involved to work out a four-year deal with guarantees that would give Welker security and keep his cap number lower than the franchise tag would.
At this point I believe it is almost certain that the Patriots will be forced to use the tag on Welker, then the two sides can take their time and work out a long-term deal over the summer.
New England wants him back and he wants to be a Patriot, therefore you have to believe something will eventually get worked out.
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