The Patriots have officially placed the franchise tag on Wes Welker, a league source tells colleague Greg A. Bedard.
UPDATE: The Patriots have announced the tag, and released the following statement:
"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come.”
As we've previously said, the tag amount for receivers is expected to be around $9.4 million this year. The exact number is tied to the 2012 salary cap, which hasn't yet been announced, which is why we don't know a final figure just yet.
Teams have until 3:59 p.m. to inform the league if they are using their franchise tag for the coming season and which player they are tagging. As usual when they use theirs, the Pats waited until the the deadline was close.