Jackson and Garcon were signed to contracts worth nearly $100 million combined on the first day of NFL free agency. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave Jackson $55 million over five years and Garcon was paid $42.5 million over the same time frame. Most would argue Welker is as good, or better, than those two. Welker's production certainly is much better.
Jackson will average about $11 million per season. Welker's current tag is about $9.4 million. It's doubtful the Patriots would give Welker a contract similar to Jackson's in length and average salary.
But a new offseason market is set for quality receivers thanks to Jackson, and to a lesser degree, Garcon. Welker, who caught 122 passes for 1,569 yards last season, can make a strong case that he deserves a similar average salary. But the Patriots don't seem interested.
Expect the franchise tag to hold in New England for now.