Patriots, Wes Welker may still work out a long-term deal


Wes Welker is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 12, but it’s still possible that the Patriots will be able to work something out to get ahead of that schedule.

The Patriots don’t want to place the franchise tag on Welker for the second straight year because that would force them to guarantee him a base salary of $11.4 million this year, but Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network are hearing that a long-term extension being reached before Welker hits free agency is still a possibility. That meshes with what Patriots owner Robert Kraft said this month: Kraft expressed optimism that a Welker deal could get done, although he openly worried that lawyers and agents could mess the deal up.

Welker wasn’t too thrilled about playing last season on the franchise tag, so he may be eager to test the free agency market in two weeks. And after catching 118 passes last season (the fifth time in the last six years he has had more than 110 catches), he may also be thinking that some team will pay him more than the Patriots would offer.

But Welker fits so perfectly in New England’s offense that he’s probably more valuable to the Patriots than he would be to any other team. Even if Welker doesn’t get a deal done in the next two weeks, New England is probably the best place for him.