The July 16, 4:00 p.m. EDT deadline for the New England Patriots to reach a contract extension with franchise-tagged wide receiver Wes Welker has passed, reports the NFL Network's Albert Breer via Twitter:
The Patriots and Wes Welker have failed to reach agreement on a long-term contract, per a source with knowledge of the situation.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) July 16, 2012
The 31-year-old slot man will play out the 2012 season on a fully guaranteed one-year, $9.515 million tender he signed in March. After the Patriots' campaign ends, the 5'9", 185-pound Texas Tech product will enter free agency.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweeted about today's Patriots happenings—or lack thereof:
Welker and the Patriots did talk today, but they never got close enough for an agreement.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 16, 2012
On July 8, Will Brinson of CBSSports.com reported that New England and their star target were $6 million apart in terms of guaranteed money. Apparently, the two sides didn't have the leeway to meet in the middle.
Monday's extension deadline saw franchised Chicago Bears' running back Matt Forte agree to a four-year, $32 million contract, per Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. On top of that, ESPN.com indicates that Jacksonville Jaguars' kicker Josh Scobee inked a four-year pact worth roughly $14 million.
At least now, the Patriots can move on as a singular unit and turn the focus towards training camp and the preseason. The organization is fortunate the 2004 undrafted free agent even signed his tender—forfeiting all his leverage.
Wes Welker has produced four 100-catch, 1,000-yard years with the Pats, been voted to four Pro Bowls and two all-pro teams, yet the powers that be in New England weren't comfortable binding themselves to a receiver in his 30s.
Putting down the checkbook until the upcoming season ends is a risk for the Patriots. But it's a risk they're willing to take.
In March 2013 when the free agency period commences, there will be countless teams wooing Welker. At the end of the day, the NFL is a business, and the Patriots have exemplified that.