The Patriots have until Monday at 4 p.m. to apply the franchise tag to Wes Welker, whichwould keep the wideout offthe free-agent market.Thatthe deadline draws closer and all isquiet could be a good sign. Silence often precedes progress. The Patriots and Welker's agent, David Dunn, havetried since last fallto get Welker a deal that works for both sides, but it's not clear how busy they've been in recent days. Dunn hasn't responded to calls to any of his phones, nor to e-mails, texts or carrier pigeon. The Patriots? Ummm, no. Welker, who turns 31 in May, signed a five-year, 18 million deal with the team in 2007. Since he's been here, he's made 554 catches for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns. He had one receiving touchdown before he came to New England. He's been to four Pro Bowls, battled back from a blown ACL in mere months and has been a worthy successor to Troy Brown as the Patriot most who most fully embodies what the franchise has been about since Bill Belichick arrived. In August, Larry Fitzgerald, 28,of the Cardinals signed an eight-year, 128.5 million contract with 50 million guaranteed. The age difference and the role difference between Welker and Fitzgerald is certainly worth noting - Welker's a slot receiver; Fitzgerald is an outside receiver and home-run threat - but the production similarities are worth noting as well. No receiver has been more productive than Welker over the past five years and the Patriots have gotten him at a very low cost relative to that production. It's Dunn's job to make sure Welker gets paid near the top of the receiver food chain and he's well within his rights to expect the Patriots to shell out a little more on top of that for services already rendered. The Patriots love Welker the player and the person. They want him around long-term, but it's unfathomable to think he'll be getting a deal which has a total value that even approaches Fitzgerald's 50 million guaranteed. With the franchise tag set at 9.4 million this year, a four-year, 32 million deal with 18-20 million guaranteed seems fair for Welker. He'd be making 8 million a year and would have a good chance of realizing all the money in the deal. In the end, he will have made 50 million over nine seasons if you roll in the first contract with the Patriots. The first players to get tagged this offseason came Thursday -DeSean Jackson of the Eagles and Raider Tyvon Branch. We're expecting a few more on Friday and the trickle of tagged players to continue until the deadline. We'll see if Welker is in the trickle.
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles
Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Orioles.
"If he has a boy, he ought to make him Mookie after tonight's outing.'' - John Farrell on Jackie Bradley Jr., who left the team for a paternity leave after Mookie Betts slugged three homers.
"I know each day that I've got it. I wake up, I know I have it. I come to the field, I know I have it.'' - Xander Bogaerts on his ongoing hitting streak.
"He's probably one of the few guys, every time I see him hit, I think he's going to hit a homer. He's just that presence that he has in the batter's box.'' - Bogaerts on Betts.
"This is probably my best night; first time I've ever done that.'' - Betts, when asked where the game ranks individually for him in his career.
"I wanted to locate the heater good, not force it too much, don't try to throw hard - just try to throw strikes.'' - Eduardo Rodriguez on his season debut.
* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games, second-longest in baseball this season.
* Bogaerts has hit safely in 36-of-38 games at a .399 clip with 33 runs scored and 23 driven in.
* Eduardo Rodriguez two runs or fewer in each of his three career starts at Camden Yards.
* The Sox had back-to-back homers (Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia) for the first time this season.
* Mookie Betts had a three-homer game for the first time in his career.
* Betts became the first Red Sox player to homer three times in the same game since Will Middlebrooks did so on April 7, 2013.
* The last time the Sox began a game with back-to-back homers was July 27, 2011 when Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia did so.
* The Red Sox scored multiple runs in the first inning for the 20th time in 51 games.
* David Ortiz extended his own hit streak to eight games.
1) Mookie Betts
Betts belted three homers -- one to left, one to center and one to right -- for the first time in his career and also contributed a brilliant diving catch in right in the seventh inning.
2) Eduardo Rodriguez
Rodriguez made his season debut and allowed two runs on six hits through six innings and didn't issue a single walk while fanning three.
3) Chris Young
Getting a rare start in center, Young made a spectacular catch to likely rob Manny Machado of a two-run homer, while drawing a walk and adding a single and a run scored.
The big question for the Celtics this offseason: What will it take to bring Kevin Durant to Boston?
It appears the Green Team might have an idea.
During an appearance on WEEI, Butch Sterns revealed that Durant’s representatives have told the Celtics organization which guys he wants to play with.
“I have this on pretty good authority: The Celtics have sat with his agent and other representatives of Durant. The Celtics do know — I don’t know who it is — but they do know who he would prefer to be brought here in a LeBron-Chris Bosh-Dwyane Wade-like way. Because that’s how it works in the NBA. You need to know who the guy or guys that that guy wants, which would be a factor
“Now, I don’t know if Durant’s told them that. But the Celtics know. They know. They’ve been told what group of guys he would want to come here.”
It’s unclear if other teams have received a similar list from Durant’s camp, but on the surface it appears Durant could be at least entertaining the idea of joining the Celtics.