No movement on a contract between Welker, Patriots


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.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.