Sunday, July 15, 2012
This could be Welker's final year as a Patriot
By James Walker
The deadline for New England Patriots Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker to get a contract extension is about 24 hours away -- and things still look bleak.
A source told ESPNBoston.com’s Mike Reiss this weekend Welker and the Patriots are not expected to reach an agreement before Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. That means Welker will play 2012 on the one-year franchise tag of $9.5 million and become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.
Not much has changed between Welker and the Patriots in the past few weeks. Both sides are talking but progress is slow. The Patriots appear comfortable keeping Welker, 31, on the one-year franchise tag, while Welker wants long-term security.
Either way, Welker said he would not let his contract situation impact his performance. Welker had at least 100 receptions in four of the past five seasons. He is an important part of the offense and that will continue in 2012.
But what happens in 2013 between Welker and the Patriots does not look good. The franchise price tag will increase next year to the point where the Patriots wouldn't pay it. It also appears less likely New England would provide a long-term extension to Welker at 32, when the team isn't expected to do the same a year earlier.
If things play out Monday as expected, this could be Welker's final season as a Patriot. Is this the right call for the defending AFC champions?