Wes Welker signs franchise tender

Updated: May 15, 2012, 9:55 PM ET
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com

New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker signed his franchise tender on Tuesday, he announced on his Twitter page, ending any question about whether he will attend the team's mandatory minicamp next month.

"I signed my tender today. I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results. #leapoffaith," he wrote.

Welker's franchise tender is worth $9.5 million. He and the Patriots are still permitted to negotiate a long-term deal until July 15, the deadline to sign tagged players to multiyear contracts.

Welker all but announced the decision on Monday during an interview on sports radio WEEI in Boston, saying he didn't plan to miss any regular-season games.

"There are 9.5 million reasons why I wouldn't miss any regular-season games," he said.

Still, there was a question as to whether Welker would attend the team's mandatory minicamp June 12-14. But now that he has signed the tender, he is required to be there. This also puts Welker in position to join the team's organized team activities and offseason program, which are ongoing.

By signing the tender, Welker puts the negotiating football back on the Patriots' side of the field. The team must now decide if it wants to pay Welker $9.5 million on a one-year deal -- which accounts for just shy of 8 percent of the $120 million salary cap -- or negotiate a longer-term deal that lessens the salary cap charge.

Welker prefers a longer-term deal which would provide even more financial security, but the sides have been apart in negotiations.

The Boston Globe previously reported that the Patriots offered Welker a fully guaranteed two-year, $16 million contract during the 2011 season.

During his interview on WEEI on Monday, Welker was asked where things stand in his contract talks with the team.

"I think we're all on the same page and we're all trying to collectively come together and make something happen," he responded.

"The main thing is really just trying to keep a level head about it, and make sure you're making the best decisions for yourself, but at the same time, put yourself in a position where you can play for a great team and hopefully do some great things in the future.

"I don't think there are any sort of hard feelings on my side or their side. I think we're all looking forward to the 2012 season and hopefully do some big things there."

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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