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Saturday, October 20, 2012
Is Wes Welker's price tag rising?

By James Walker

After a slow start when it was widely speculated that Wes Welker was being "phased out," the New England Patriots Pro Bowl receiver's production has been off the charts.

Welker
Welker is second in the NFL in both receptions (48) and receiving yards (622) entering Week 7. This is especially impressive considering Welker shared time earlier this season with Julian Edelman and didn't start in three games.

Welker has caught eight or more passes in four straight games. He is the third-most targeted receiver in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

But here is the bigger question: Is Welker's immense production pricing himself out of New England?

Welker is playing on a one-year, $9.5 million franchise tag because neither side could agree on a long-term extension. Welker, 31, will be one year older. But he's on pace for another 100-catch season and will expect a big payday.

The Patriots spent a lot of cap room this offseason to reach long-term extensions with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It will be very tough for New England to pay Welker top-receiver money in 2013 and another franchise tag could be out of reach.