Wes Welker: With Contract Talks Worsening, What's Next for Welker and Patriots?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IMay 17, 2012

By signing the franchise tag, Wes Welker agreed to possibly be left out in the cold on a long-term deal in 2012.
By signing the franchise tag, Wes Welker agreed to possibly be left out in the cold on a long-term deal in 2012.Elsa/Getty Images

The immediate future of wide receiver Wes Welker is certain, but his long-term future with the New England Patriots isn't.

Now that Welker has signed his franchise tender to play for the Patriots for one year at $9.515 million, we know he'll play every game in 2012. What we don't know is where he'll play in 2013 and beyond.

Contract negotiations are not going well between the New England Patriots and the star wideout. Via the Boston Herald:

"There have been talks, but nothing that's brightened anything at all," Welker said. "It's actually gotten worse."

When asked to define “worse,” Welker said the offer on the table is less than the two-year, $16 million fully guaranteed contract that was offered to him during the 2011 regular season.

History tells us that the Patriots are prone to do just about anything when it comes to the franchise tag. Understandably, that has Welker a bit uneasy about the prospect of being on just a one-year deal.

Only one problem: Welker signed away his leverage in negotiations when he signed the tag in the first place, but his words may have done him in even before that in an interview on WEEI sports radio network in Boston.

"There’s nine and a half million reasons why I wouldn’t miss any regular season games," he said on "Mut & Merloni" Monday afternoon, "so you don’t have to worry about that."

It looks like his only real option at this point is to play for the Patriots under the franchise tag for the 2012 season and to wait until 2013 for another shot at a long-term deal.

"The ball's in their court. I just want to play," he said. "At the end of the day, if it's one year, $9.5 million, it's one year, $9.5 million. I'm good with that."

Welker's head is in the right place—he later elaborated to the Herald that he signed the tender because he has learned to let the process play its course, and has learned through the mistakes of others before him.

But others before him includes Adam Vinatieri and Asante Samuel, both of who played a year under the franchise tag before moving onto a new team. In fact, they are the only two players in Bill Belichick's tenure to play out the tag, and both were not re-signed by the team long term.

But the best thing Welker can do to improve his chance at a long-term deal with the organization is to be the best player and the best teammate he can be.

"I think those techniques work better with other teams," said the 31-year-old Welker. "I think the best thing you can do, as far as the Patriots, is be there and let them make the decision if they want to do something long-term or not."