Momentum builds with Welker & Pats

In a column now posted on ESPNBoston.com, Mike Reiss writes on the franchise-tag deadline passing through the lens of the Patriots' negotiations with receiver Wes Welker.

Last year, it was #leapoffaith when it came to receiver Wes Welker, the New England Patriots and the franchise tag.

This year's theme might as well be #thingsarelookingup.

The Patriots let Monday's franchise-tag deadline pass without using the tag -- on Welker or anyone else -- which marks the first time the club has passed on the opportunity since 2008. The tags were too expensive -- Welker's would have been $11.4 million, cornerback Aqib Talib's $10.8 million and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer's $9.8 million -- obviously not representing what the club felt was good value. They also would have restricted the team from making other free-agent moves.

But forgoing use of the tag shouldn't be viewed as a sign that the Patriots don't want Welker, Talib or Vollmer back in 2013 and beyond. They do. But they need to find the right price, and after a year in which the Patriots and Welker's representatives seemed to have significantly different opinions on what that might be, the sides seem more aligned this time around.

Where at one point it seemed as though Welker might be playing his final season with the Patriots in 2012, now it would be a surprise if he's not back next season, and even a few more after that.

To read the piece, CLICK HERE.