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Monday, January 30, 2012
Thoughts on Wes Welker, free agency

By James Walker

INDIANAPOLIS -- One of the biggest free agents this offseason will be New England Patriots Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker. But Welker said Sunday that he doesn't expect to be on the market for long.

"I plan on being back," Welker said. "I am not really too worried about that right now. I am fully concentrated on this game and what we have to do, but I plan on being back."

Welker was pressed on the issue but wasn't interested in spending too much time or energy on it.

"This is all stuff that we can address at another point," Welker said. "It can be a story after the season is over, but right now we are just concentrating on this game and what we have to do to win this game. If you win this game, all of that other stuff takes care of itself."

Here's my take: I would be shocked if Welker isn't wearing a Patriots uniform next season. New England has approximately $20 million in cap space, and Welker is one of Bill Belichick's favorite players.

Welker embodies everything the Patriots look for -- toughness, consistency, smarts and work ethic. He had 122 receptions and set a career high with 1,569 yards. The offense doesn't run as smoothly without Welker, and the Patriots know it.

Mike Reiss at ESPNBoston.com reports Welker is making just $2 million this season. That is a huge bargain compared to Welker’s production. He has never complained about his contract and that is still the case, down to the final game. Welker will get his payday this offseason. The Patriots aren't letting him walk.