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Time right for Welker, Patriots?

Without franchise tag, New England may reach long-term deal with receiver

Updated: March 4, 2013, 11:39 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

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 ...

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