Rapid reaction on the Patriots officially assigning the non-exclusive franchise tag to Wes Welker:
This was what was expected. Now comes the unknown -- how Welker will react to the tag, which restricts his ability to fully experience unrestricted free agency.
Welker, who spoke with coach Bill Belichick about the decision, is keeping a low profile at this time.
The negotiating football is now in his hands.
Does he skip offseason workouts (which begin April 16) and camps to make a statement of his displeasure? Or does he quickly sign the $9.4 million tender and guarantee himself that salary on a one-year term?
Negotiations are often about leverage and the Patriots, via the franchise tag, have utilized their leverage with Welker. The tag protects one of their top assets, all but ensuring he won't be playing elsewhere in 2012.
Welker's leverage is that the Patriots aren't the same offense without him, so now we wait to see how far he is willing to push this.
UPDATE: Late Monday night, Welker tweeted the following: "Glad that I will be a Patriot in 2012. and hopefully '13,'14,'15,'16,'17,'18.........."