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Monday, April 16, 2012
Will Wes Welker become an issue?

By James Walker

New England Patriots leading receiver Wes Welker did not attend the start of his team's offseason workout program on Monday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Welker
Is this a brewing issue or nothing to worry about in April? Time will tell.

Welker has yet to sign his one-year franchise tender for 2012, estimated at $9.5 million. Welker recently said it was "a lot of money" but didn't fully commit to signing it. The Patriots also seem content with sticking to the tag -- at least before the draft and remainder of free agency.

It's possible that negotiations could proceed later this offseason. The Patriots and Welker have until late summer to remove the tag if a long-term extension is reached. It's also possible New England is fine with keeping Welker, 31, under the one-year tag.

There are two ways Welker can handle this situation. He can protest offseason activities and see if that prompts progress in negotiations. Or he can sign the tender, participate and hope for the best.

There is a case to be made for either approach. Skipping offseason activities is Welker's only leverage move. But the Patriots hold most of the cards in their favor.