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Patriots expected to franchise Welker

By Greg A. Bedard and Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / March 5, 2012
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Given that Wes Welker and the Patriots aren’t close on a long-term contract for the wide receiver, and barring a last-minute change of heart by the team, Welker will have the franchise tag placed on him by Monday afternoon’s deadline, a league source said Sunday night.

The franchise number for receivers is expected to be around $9.4 million for the 2012 season, though the exact amount has not been released by the NFL.

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the formula for figuring non-exclusive franchise tag (which allows a player to negotiate with other teams) amounts is more complicated. In past years, and as it remains with the current exclusive tag (which does not allow players to negotiate with other teams), the franchise amount was equal to the average of the top five highest-paid players at a position.

The Patriots offered Welker a two-year, fully-guaranteed contract for $16 million during the 2011 season, which he declined.

If Welker were to be franchised in 2012 and 2013, he would earn closer to $20 million, all of which also would be guaranteed.

Teams have until 3:59 p.m. Monday to designate a franchise player (though they are not required), and 11 teams already have done so.

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