BOSTON (CBS) — Monday marks the first day that teams around the NFL can place the franchise tag on one player from their rosters. According to one report, the Patriots won’t be using theirs on wide receiver Wes Welker.
Ron Borges of the Boston Herald did not explicitly state that the Patriots definitely won’t use the tag on Welker, but he did write, “The Patriots are simply not going to put an $11.4 million franchise tag on Welker, someone with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking said.”
The Herald’s Karen Guregian also wrote, “Colleague Ron Borges has it on good authority [that tagging Welker] ain’t happening.”
Welker, who will be 32 in May and is coming off a 118-catch, 1,354-yard season, worked under the franchise tag this past season, giving him a one-year salary of $9.5 million. So what changed this year?
For one, he’s a year older with another year of wear on his body. He’s looked superhuman at times in his six seasons in New England, but despite his durability, the Patriots have to be concerned about the effects of Welker absorbing so many heavy hits. Secondly, the cost of franchising Welker would go up to $11.4 million, a not-insignificant bump of nearly $2 million from last year.
With cornerback Aqib Talib and tackle Sebastian Vollmer also set to hit the free-agent market, both are candidates for the franchise tag this offseason. The tag could be placed on either or neither, but it seems as though it won’t be on Welker.