No movement on a contract between Welker, Patriots

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No movement on a contract between Welker, Patriots

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.

Four killed in crash involving Dallas Cowboys' bus

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Four killed in crash involving Dallas Cowboys' bus

PHOENIX (AP) -- A bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players and a van collided Sunday on an Arizona highway, killing four people in the van, authorities said.

The bus occupants emerged uninjured from the crash, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

Mickey Spagnola, a columnist for the team's website, has been writing for the past week about traveling on a Cowboys bus with a driver, the team mascot and videographer. On his Twitter page, Spagnola tweeted before 2 p.m. that the bus was 80 miles outside of Vegas.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman or 180 miles northeast of Phoenix, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Las Vegas and Phoenix.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.