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Patriots, Wes Welker fail to reach new deal

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  July 16, 2012 04:45 PM

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The NFL-mandated 4 p.m. deadline for teams to come to a long-term extension with franchised players has come and gone, and the Patriots and receiver Wes Welker were unable to agree to a new deal, a league source confirmed with colleague Greg A. Bedard.

As the Globe reported last Monday, the sticking point between the two sides was the Patriots' reluctance to give Welker a third year on a deal and how to structure a potential third year.

This means Welker will play the 2012 season under his franchise tag, which this year for receivers is $9.515 million.

There are now three options for Welker, who will almost certainly set a franchise record for receptions this season, and New England. He and the team can re-open talks once the 2012 season is over, the Patriots can franchise him again for '13, at a cost of more than $11 million (120 percent of his 2012 salary), or Welker can become a free agent.

Welker signed his one-year franchise tender in May and said he hoped it would lead to the team extending him on a long-term deal. But NFL rules prohibit franchise players from negotiating for a long-term deal after Monday’s deadline.

Welker, 31, caught 122 passes last year and has caught an NFL-high 554 passes since joining the Patriots in 2007.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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