The New England Patriots are trying to come to terms with a new contract for pending free agent wide receiver Wes Welker, but if the two sides cannot come to terms on a deal, the Patriots are expected to franchise tag Welker before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.
The Patriots are expected to assign the franchise tag to receiver Wes Welker by Monday's deadline. I don't think it's a coincidence that the team is waiting until the last minute. In some ways, I see it as symbolic of the club not wanting to create a "hard ball" type of message with a player who has done everything it has asked of him. They just have a difference of opinion as to the right contract at this point.
It's still possible for the two sides to come to an agreement on a long term deal and remove the franchise tag prior to July 15, but it sounds like the Patriots are expected to place the tag on Welker. The wide receiver is coming off another 100-catch 1,000 yard season for the Patriots and has been a vital cog in the offense since he was acquired via a trade with the Miami Dolphins in 2007.