Wide receiver is looking like a busy position for the Patriots as they head toward the free agency season.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that the team is still expected to place the franchise tag on Wes Welker before Monday’s deadline for placing the franchise tag passes. The tag carries a price of around $9.4 million, although there have been reports out of Boston that Welker won’t be in any hurry to sign the tender. Reiss believes the Patriots are waiting until the last minute to avoid creating a “hard ball” situation with Welker, although there’s little hope of avoiding it if that’s the way Welker chooses to respond to the tag.
Once the Patriots take care of Welker, they’re expected to move on to the hunt for another wide receiver. Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports that he keeps hearing the team’s top priority in free agency will be a wide receiver. Bedard names Vincent Jackson and Mike Wallace as the top choices among players on the market. Wallace is a restricted free agent and Jackson could still be franchised by the Chargers, so acquiring either player could wind up costing a pick in addition to a new contract. Bedard also mentions Brandon Lloyd as a possibility, something that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given Lloyd’s public comments about reuniting with Josh McDaniels in New England.
The biggest fly in the ointment with signing another top wideout would be the amount of money the Patriots are tying up at one position. If Welker is making $9.4 million under the tag, they would be spending a lot of cap space on two wide receivers. That might be worthwhile, but it would certainly make life easier for New England if they could reach an agreement with Welker that results in a lower cap number.