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BOSTON (CBS) — Wes Welker’s decision to sign his franchise tender this week was a positive step for both Welker and the Patriots. Yet, the 31-year-old Welker is still seeking a long-term deal from the Patriots, and in that regard, he’s not making any progress. In fact, he told the Boston Herald that progress is moving backward.
“There have been talks, but nothing that’s brightened anything at all. It’s actually gotten worse,” Welker told the Herald’s Karen Guregian.
Welker told the Herald that negotiations have gotten so bad that the Patriots have taken their original offer of two years with $16 million in guaranteed money off the table.
Despite his desire to get a long-term deal with more security than his current one-year, $9.5 million contract will give him, the NFL’s leader in receptions since 2007 still does not feel entitled to a huge payday.
“If they see me out there at OTAs and minicamps and everything else, and I’m still out there winning and doing what I need to do to help the team win, you know what? The ball’s in their court to make something happen,” Welker told Guregian. “That’s kind of my mind-set — to go out and show them I deserve it.”
While Welker’s position is admirable, a few reps at practice likely won’t change anyone’s mind in New England, because really, he’s already done plenty to prove he’s earned it. He’s played in 77 of a possible 80 regular-season games, averaging 111 receptions, 1,221 yards and six touchdowns per season. In seven playoff games, he’s caught 53 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns. He also made a near-miraculous recovery from torn knee ligaments at the end of the 2009 season to be back in time for Week 1 of 2010.
Despite the lack of progress in negotiations, Welker is someone who just can’t be kept away from the field. So he signed his franchise tender with the hope the team would reward him for his good faith.
If history is any guide, Welker and the Patriots will eventually reach an agreement. As cold as the organization can be when it comes to negotiations, it has always taken care of the most valuable players. Vince Wilfork held out in 2009 and eventually became the second-highest paid defensive tackle in the league. Last season, after Logan Mankins’ situation appeared to be beyond repair, he signed a deal that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.
The difference in those cases was that Wilfork was 27 and Mankins was 29. Yet while Welker may not become one of the highest-paid receivers at his age, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots letting this negotiation carry over into the regular season.