The Patriots have until July 16 to give Wes Welker a new deal. As we all know, Welker wants more security than the one-year, 9.515 million franchise tag provides; he wants a long-term contract and the money that goes with it. As we also know, New England can tell the receiver to kick rocks.
Jason La Canfora is leaning toward the latter.
This week, CBSSports.com's NFL analyst rated the likelihood of various tagged players winning their desired deals. La Canfora puts Welker's odds at "Weak."
"I don't sense any real motivation to get this extended," he wrote. "The Patriots seem perfectly fine with the talented, but older, receiver playing out the tag. While Welker, clearly, would like a little more money and security from a longer deal, I don't see it happening now after all this time. He loves being a Patriot and playing with Tom Brady, and the sides could always work out a new deal down the line, and in the meantime he gets roughly 10 million.
"Sources with knowledge of this negotiation have believed for months that Welker would end up playing 2012 on the tag and that became even more clear when he signed it and joined offseason work a while back. It would take a fairly drastic turn of events to get off that track now."
Opinions have varied widely since Welker signed the tag in mid-May. Of course, the only one that matters is held by the Patriots brain trust, and we'll find out what it is in about two weeks.
There was no postseason clunker for Tom Brady Sunday. In fact, his performance Sunday was one of the best of his NFL record 24 playoff wins.
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
Brady completed 32 of 42 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns with no turnovers. His passing yard total is a Patriots postseason record.
No. 12’s dominance helped Chris Hogan set a Patriots postseason record with 180 receiving yards on nine catches. Two of his grabs went for touchdowns, including a 39-yard touchdown on a flea-flicker in the second quarter.
The previous Pats' postseason record was held by Deion Branch, who had 153 receiving yards in the Patriots' divisional round loss to the Broncos in the 2005 season.
Hogan’s performance ranks tied for 17th all-time in terms of receiving yards in a postseason game. The record is still safely held by former Bills receiver Eric Moulds, who had 240 receiving yards on Jan. 2, 1999 in a loss to the Dolphins.
Hogan wasn’t the only Pats receiver to finish with gaudy numbers. Julian Edelman had eight catches for 118 yards and a touchdown.
FOXBORO -- Notes from the Patriots' 36-17 victory over the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game:
PATRIOTS 33, STEELERS 9
-- The Patriots are headed to their ninth Super Bowl, most in NFL history. The Cowboys, Broncos and Steelers have each been to eight.
-- The Patriots are now 9-4 in AFC Championship Games, including 6-1 in games played in Foxboro and 5-1 at Gillette Stadium.
-- The Patriots are now 3-0 against the Steelers in AFC Championship Games, and 4-1 overall against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.
-- The Patriots are 31-19 in postseason games, including 20-4 at home (3-1 at Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium, 17-3 at Gillette).
-- The Patriots won their 31st postseason game tonight, moving them past the 49ers into fourth place on the list of all-time playoff victories in NFL history. They trail the Cowboys (34), Steelers (34) and Packers (32).
-- The Patriots' .620 winning percentage (31-19) in postseason games is now second-best in NFL history, behind the Ravens (15-8, .652). The Packers' loss today drops them to third (34-22, .607).
-- The Patriots have now won eight conference championships with Robert Kraft as owner, setting an NFL for most conference titles in the Super Bowl. Kraft had been tied with the Denver Broncos' Pat Bowler at seven.
-- Bill Belichick is now 25-10 in postseason games as a head coach and is in a tie with Bill Walsh (10-4) for third place on the NFL list of best postseason coaching winning percentage. Vince Lombardi (9-1, .900) is in first place and Tom Flores (8-3. .727) is second.
-- Belichick is advancing to his seventh Super Bowl as a head coach, most in NFL history. He had been tied with Don Shula at six. Belichick's Super Bowl record is 4-2, Shula's is 2-4.
-- Tom Brady had his ninth three-touchdown-pass postseason game, tying Joe Montana for the NFL record.
-- Stephen Gostkowski, who entered the game with 142 career postseason points, scored 12 points today and moved past Gary Anderson into third place on the NFL's all-time list of kicking points in the postseason. Adam Vinatieri (234) is first and David Akers (175) is second.
IF EDELMAN CATCHES 9 OR MORE PASSES IN GAME: -- Julian Edelman (who entered the game with 76) tied/moved past Andre Reed (85) for/into sixth place on the NFL's all-time list of postseason receptions. Michael Irvin is fifth at 88, and Hines Ward and Wes Welker are tied for third at 88.