Receiver seems set to become free agent after news Patriots will not put the tag on Welker.NFL.com has reported that Wes Welker will not be put under the franchise tag, and is a clear indication that the slot receiver seems headed for the free agent market.
The franchise tag is a one-year deal every team can place on one player per year. The player has no power in refusing to be ‘tagged’ and must stay with the club for the entire season.
Their is a financial gain to being franchise tagged, the player will receive no less than the average of the top five earners at his position, a deal that could land Welker $11.4m for the season.
The Patriots are in a rebuilding phase right now, especially at the wide receiver position. Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office clearly see the fan favourite as an expensive commodity, believing they can get a player for less money and at a higher production.
The ongoing contract dispute between the Patriots and Welker has been a long process, that resulted in the franchise placing the franchise tag on the disgruntled receiver, signing him to a one-year deal that cost the franchise $9.5m towards the salary cap.
The franchise believes that Welker can no longer produce the consistent form he performed at in his early career with the team In the past two seasons, his performances and productions has seriously declined, as the teams passing focus has been more orientated to include tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez more often.
Welker may not be the only receiver to leave Foxboro. Trade acquisition Brandon Lloyd is due a $3m bonus on top of his $1.9m base salary, yet another commodity the Patriots may not be able to afford.
If these two players are released, the franchise may make a splash for receivers Mike Wallace or Percy Harvin, then looking to cheap young options to fill the smaller roles on the roster.
That has always seemed to be the mantra when it comes to Belichick’s assembly of his receivers, and it projects to be no different next season as the perennial Superbowl contenders will once again make a charge at lifting the Lombardi trophy once more.