BOSTON (CBS) – On the day NFL Free agency begins, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft continues to say the team wants Wes Welker back.
And according to Kraft, Welker still feels the same way too.
“We love Wes and we want him to be with us, and he also wants to be with us,” Kraft said at the Massachusetts Technology Council’s Annual Meeting in Boston on Tuesday. “Now we just have to make sure that each of our representatives do what they have to do to make it happen.”
“I hope very much that it will happen,” Kraft added.
The Patriots owner has maintained throughout the off-season, and even before the season ended, he would like to see Welker back in a New England uniform. Welker has consistently caught passes since being acquired from the Miami Dolphins in 2007, with 672 receptions for nearly 7,500 yards in his six seasons as a Patriot. He had 118 receptions, good for second in the NFL, and found the end zone six times in 2012 — carrying the load for most of the season as tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski each battled injuries.
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Welker has also been one of the Patriots most durable players on offense, missing just three games in six years despite the hard hits he takes nearly every time he catches a pass over the middle.
With the floodgates of NFL Free Agency opening at 4p.m. Tuesday afternoon, time will tell how the two sides feel when contract numbers start to be thrown around though. Things got a little messy with Welker last off-season after he was franchised, and the two sides were not able to work out a long-term deal.
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Welker played last season under the franchise tag, and his camp made it clear he would not sign an extension without first testing the waters. While some reports have said negotiations with the Patriots were going well, a recent report by Yahoo! Sports suggested Welker had some “mild disdain” towards the team for a few things that happened early last season.
Welker is expected to have suitors on the open market, with the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans among those reportedly interested.