The New England Patriots and wide receiver Wes Welker are heading into their last week of long-term contract discussions for a while, and the big gap between the two sides suggests little possibility of a deal getting done.
The Boston Globe’s Greg Bedard reported Sunday that the Patriots and Welker are about $6 million in guaranteed money apart from one another, a big divide heading into the final week of negotiations. Welker and the Patriots can negotiate on a long-term contract until July 16 at 4 p.m. At that point, the two sides could no longer negotiate until the end of the season, and Welker would be forced to play the season under the $9.515 million franchise tag. Bedard breaks it down:
Basically, the Patriots want Welker to take a bit of a discount to stay with Tom Brady. Welker, meanwhile, wants a deal that guarantees him just below the $21 million he would get paid playing two years under the franchise tag.
You’re talking about a distance in the range of around $6 million in guaranteed money.
Welker, 31, produced arguably his best season last year with the Patriots. He caught an NFL-leading 122 passes for a career-high 1,569 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns.
Bedard points out that if the Patriots are committed to Walker for more than next season, they would be wise to sign him to a long-term deal rather than continue to lock him up via the franchise tag. If the Patriots signed him to an extension, they would save approximately 50 percent on his cap number and could use the savings for extensions on other players, including tight end Aaron Hernandez, offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer or safety Patrick Chung.