A day after hinting he wouldn't miss any regular season games, Wes Welker signed his franchise tag tender contract. The Pro Bowl wide receiver confirmed the news via his Twitter account earlier this afternoon, moments after colleague Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe reported the move.
"I signed my tender today," Welker wrote. "I love the game and I love my teammates! Hopefully doing the right thing gets the right results. #leapoffaith"
By putting his name to the one-year contract, valued at the average of the top 10 player contracts at his position (approximately $9.5 million), Welker is now eligible to take part in any and all of the Patriots' offseason workouts. In the meantime, as he alluded to in his tweet, Welker and the team can continue to negotiate a longer-term deal as well, but only until July 15. According to NFL rules, if they cannot hammer out an agreement by then, Welker must play the 2012 season under the franchise tender.
It's still possible the club could decide to trade Welker. The team had been steadily upgrading its wide receiver corps throughout the offseason, mostly with veteran free agents on one-, two-, or three-year deals. Consequently, competition at this position could be the fiercest of any in New England this summer, with or without Welker.
In all likelihood, however, the Patriots will retain the services of quarterback Tom Brady's favorite receiver for at least one more season.
How do you feel about Welker's signing the franchise tender? As always, we welcome your comments below.