Wes Welker, Patriots face uncertain future in 2013

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Wes Welker is set to become a free agent now that the Patriots season is over. Where will he be playing when the 2013 season rolls around?

The Patriots season came to an end on Sunday. Wes Welker's tenure with the franchise might have as well. Welker is set to become a free agent this off-season, and he is unsure where he will be playing at the start of the 2013 season.

Despite constant attempts from the media to pry information from Welker, the 32-year-old wide receiver remains quiet. After Sunday's loss he was again asked about his contract, and again he refused to shed any light on the matter.

Welker commented on his contract negotiations: "I'm not sure," he said in regards to his future contract. "I'm not worried about that right now." Welker continues to say he isn't worried about a new deal.

New England, on the other hand, has a serious decision to make. The Patriots placed a franchise tag on Welker this season after the two sides couldn't reach an agreement back in July. He played with a $9.5 million tender in 2012, but that price will jump up to $11.4 million if they choose to franchise him again. That's a lofty price for the veteran wideout.

The Patriots were wary about giving Welker an extended contract after he suffered a torn ACL in 2010. According to reports, New England didn't want to go beyond a two-year deal with concerns about his durability. Welker bounced back nicely to catch 122 passes in 2011. It didn't look like he was hindered much by the major injury.

Welker also made comments on his contract negotiations this summer, telling reports to "ask Bill". While he assured everyone it was a joke, there does seem to be tension here. The Patriots locked up Aaron Hernandez to a five-year deal this past off-season. Surely Welker questioned why he didn't receive a similar deal.

In 2012 he caught 118 passes for 1,354 yards. The numbers are always there. Looking at his career in New England, he's only missed three regular season games. He still isn't receiving the contract he wants, though.

It's unlikely the Patriots would franchise him again with such a large cap hit. If Welker doesn't receive a multi-year contract, he could be hitting the free agent market.

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