No movement on a contract between Welker, Patriots

No movement on a contract between Welker, Patriots
April 11, 2012, 9:46 pm
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There's been no movement toward a new contract between the Patriots and franchised wide receiver Wes Welker.

Welker will be on NFL Network Thursday night, ostensibly to talk about the Patriots' 2011 season and the team's offseason moves.

One of those moves was applying the tag to Welker on March 6, just days before his five-year deal with the team expired.
The 9.5 million tag has kept Welker off the free-agent market. Welker hasn't yet signed the tendered offer, hence, he is not under contract.

That last point is important as voluntary offseason workouts and minicamps approach.

If Welker doesn't sign the tender, he can't participate because he isn't under contract. If he does sign the tender, the Patriots have no urgency to provide him with the long-term deal he wants.

If he doesn't attend, he is not "holding out." He simply is refusing to agree to the franchise tag. And, even though there's a ton of attention devoted to offseason workouts these days because of interest in all things NFL, the early part of voluntary workouts is mostly weight training.

Welker, who works out in Florida, shouldn't be seen as "sending a message" to the team until there are full-squad workouts going on and he's not part of them.

Not that that should be ruled out, either.

Welker's expressed an interest in staying in New England long-term. The team's been candid about wanting to keep him.

When the Patriots announced they were putting the tag on Welker, they stated that, "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal.Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come.At this point, though, no talks and no progress.

And there likely won't be any until after the NFL Draft, which will be held April 26-28.

After that, Welker's contractual satisfaction (and perhaps extensions for Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez) may also come to the fore.

The Patriots have until July 15 to work out a new deal with Welker and lift the franchise tag from him for the 2012 season.