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According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Patriots will use their franchise tag on free agent wide receiver Wes Welker.
Schefter reports the two sides have been discussing a long-term contract, but the Pats will use the tag before the March 5 deadline, if needed.
Obviously, this isn’t so surprising, but by slapping Welker with the tag, the Patriots will have to pay him the average salary of the five highest paid wide receivers in the NFL. There had been some doubt whether the team would take that route.
Some felt the Patriots may let Welker hit the open market with the hopes that it would drive his price down. Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio clearly feel differently, seeing Welker now will either get a long-term deal or will get tagged before getting that long-term deal.
The 30-year-old Welker led the NFL with 122 receptions last season. He’s recently remembered, though, for his critical drop during the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.