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Wes Welker Expected To Get Franchise Tag If No Longterm Deal Is Reached

Wide receiver Wes Welker is set to become an unrestricted free agent, but he could get stuck with the franchise tag according to a report.

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New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason and is coming off his best season in the NFL. Welker ended the year with 122 receptions and a career best 1,569 receiving yards with 9 touchdowns. If a long term deal with the Patriots can't be reached before the start of free agency, New England could place the franchise tag on Welker according to a report.

"He's going to be tagged, that I know for pretty much certain," Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe told Armando Salquero on Salguero's Miami radio show. "If they don't, he's going to sign with the Jets and they're going to have to try and cover him twice a year, or the Dolphins ... They want him back. I don't see why things would change now, but the way it stood before the Super Bowl, they're going to tag him."

According to Bedard the Patriots don't want to pay Welker like he's an elite NFL wide receiver, but Welker would like to be paid like one. If Welker is hit with the franchise tag he would be paid $9.4 million guaranteed for the 2012 season, down from 2011's $11.4 million franchise tag number for wide receivers. Bedard also indicated that if the Patriots do place the franchise tag on Welker, they could end up with another Logan Mankins situation. Mankins receiver the franchise tag and didn't report until half way through the season.

For more on the New England Patriots, visit SB Nation's Patriots blog Pats Pulpit and SB Nation Boston.