BOSTON (CBS) – The Patriots have a big decision to make when it comes to free agent receiver Wes Welker.

Franchise him again for a whopping $11.4 million? Let him walk after averaging 112 catches for the last six seasons? Or lock him up long-term, rewarding him for all those bone-crushing hits he has taken in order to move the chains.

According to, the Patriots may be leaning towards the later.’s Ian Rapoport wrote on Monday that he and Albert Breer have both heard rumblings that Welker may receive a long-term deal from the Patriots prior to the beginning of the free agency period on March 9. Rapoport writes “the door is still open for him to get his money and retire a Patriot.”

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It’s already been reported the Patriots will not franchise Welker for the second straight season, so a long-term deal would be the next sensible solution to keep Welker on Foxboro. The two sides tried to come to an agreement last season before Welker settled for his franchise tag. It’s thought that Welker wants to stay with the Patriots, and Tom Brady and the New England brass would like to have him back — but on their terms.

Welker will be 32 in May, and there are concerns about his 5-9 self after taking all those hits over the years.  Despite his knack for unreal production (he has 672 receptions, 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns over his six years in a Patriots uniform) there have also been those untimely drops in the playoffs.

Read: Welker Ranked #2 FA Wide Receiver By Pro Football Focus

But Welker has produced like no other and shown little to no signs of slowing down. Because of that, he may just get that long-term deal he’s always wanted.


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