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.

Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

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Brady, Harbaugh found common ground on plane ride back from Michigan

FOXBORO -- What could have been an awkward plane ride for Tom Brady and John Harbaugh was made less so thanks to a high school lacrosse player. 

Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan where Jim Harbaugh and his University of Michigan program put on an event for National Signing Day. About a year earlier, Brady told a room full of reporters that Harbaugh and his coaching staff should study the rule book and "figure it out" after hearing that they were pretty upset about the unusual formations the Patriots ran during their AFC Divisional Round win over Baltimore. 

They may not have been on the best of terms.

"I was pissed off," he told ESPN's Ian O'Connor before the start of this season. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."

But on the flight was Harbaugh's daughter Alison, a high school lacrosse player. When Brady took some time to share a few thoughts on competitiveness with her, he and Harbaugh found common ground.

"We had a lot of fun," Harbaugh said of the flight. "I don't know if he's talked about that at all, but we ended up sharing a plane ride along with my daughter and a couple of his people, friends of his. We just had a chance to just talk for a couple hours. And really more than anything, Alison got a chance to listen to Tom Brady talk about competing and what it takes to be great at what you do.

"And one of the funny things about it was, he was so nice to her. He gets off and they go, and we get back on the plane and we're talking, and she says something like, 'Boy, Tom really is a nice guy.' And I look at here and go, 'Tom?' I'm thinking 'Mr. Brady' would have been more appropriate. She said, 'He said to call me Tom.' I got a kick out of that.

"It was good. Lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for what he's accomplished. He's very tough to compete against. The best quarterback that's played, certainly in this era, without question in my mind. That's how I would rank him. And it's just another tough challenge to have to play against him."

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

Lowry, Sullinger and Blount interrupt interview with DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan didn't get a chance to answer one question in his postgame interview before being interrupted by Kyle Lowry, Jared Sullinger, and LeGarrette Blount.