Still all quiet on the Welker franchise front


Still all quiet on the Welker franchise front

Big plans for this weekend? Maybe going to the Cape. Maybe mowing the lawn, painting the deck. Sweating out the NFL franchise deadline, perhaps.

Wes Welker and the Patriots have until 4 p.m. Monday before a contract decision must be made.

And it sounds like this one will come down to the wire.

According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, zero progress has been made on settling Welker's future in New England.

"A source with knowledge of the Patriots' talks with receiver Wes Welker put it at "5050" whether they can reach a deal," La Canfora wrote Thursday night. "They still have a pretty significant gap in terms of guaranteed money to bridge."

The report is, essentially, no different from the "complete and utter limbo" Tom Curran described to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio on Monday.

But be clear on one point while waiting:

"Welker's not concerned about contract length -- he's concerned about value," Curran told Florio. "He basically wants to be paid the franchise tag for two season and just have the guarantee that if he blows himself up in 2012, he'll have that money in 2013.

"So, it's not a three-year deal he's looking for, it's not a five-year deal he's looking for; he just wants to get two years with an option for a third and get around 21 million dollars -- 9.5 this year, 11.6 next year."

Florio agreed, saying it makes fiscal sense for the Patriots if Welker takes the tag price now. If he has another great year in 2012, then he can get receiver tag again next season. That way the Patriots are protected from injury or decline in performance.

We'll find out soon enough if the team is willing to sacrifice that self-preservation in favor of 'doing right' by Welker -- a guy who has 554 receptions for 6,105 yards and 31 touchdowns in five years of service. And all for just 18 million.


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots


Not a lot of talk about Cannon this season, and that's a good thing for Patriots

Marcus Cannon has had his run as a piñata. The Patriots offensive lineman is a frequent target when things go wrong up front and, usually, he’s deserved it.

A bit of anecdotal evidence? 

Sunday, I tweeted that every time I watched Cannon, he was making another good play.

On cue, about 10 tweets came back at me with variations of “Keep watching him!”

I asked Bill Belichick if he agreed with the layman’s assessment that Cannon’s playing well.

“I think Marcus [Cannon] has done a good job for us for quite a while,” Belichick began. “I mean he’s stepped in for Sebastian [Vollmer] and then last year when Nate [Solder] was out [and he substituted] for Nate. He has played a lot of good football for us.

“We extended our agreement with him off of his rookie contract which I think speaks to the fact that we want him on the team and we like what he’s doing and so forth and he’s continued to I’d say show with his performance [that he has] validated the confidence that we have in him.”

Cannon’s ending to 2015 – a poor performance (along with the rest of the line) against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was followed by a performance against the Cardinals that was marred by late-game holding calls.

But with Sebastian Vollmer injured (and still injured) it was sink or swim with Cannon which had plenty of people rolling their eyes.

But – as I said – every time I see Cannon, he’s either holding off a defensive end in pass protection, steamrolling downfield in the running game or making really athletic second-level or cut blocks in the screen game.

“Like every player, as they gain more experience they do get better,” said Belichick. “I think our offensive line’s certainly improved over the course of the year and playing with more consistency than we did last year. But there’s always room for improvement and the continuity that we’ve had there since (right guard) Shaq [Mason] has gotten in the last few weeks – we had Shaq over on the right side a little bit at the end of the season last year and then this year most all of the year except when Shaq was out for a few weeks there at the end of training camp and the start of the season – but our overall consistency and communication on the offensive line has been better because we’ve had more continuity there so that helps everybody.”

It can’t hurt that the lineman whisperer, Dante Scranecchia, has returned to coach the group. Cannon’s conditioning and physique looks better. He just appears more athletic and explosive. And he’s seemed more relaxed in the limited time the media’s in the locker room.

All off that added up equals nobody really talking about Marcus Cannon.
“Like any lineman, the less you call his name probably the better he’s doing,” said Belichick. “It’s probably a good thing when you guys don’t talk about him. Then that probably means they’re not doing something too noticeably wrong, right?”