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Reports: Welker 'closing in' on deal or not

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Seemingly a bit less than a rollercoaster of love at this point, the dealings between the Patriots and Wes Welker are simply a bumpy rollercoaster of negotiations.

And that's just in the last 24 hours or so.

The last day-plus has seen reports from a variety of media outlets weigh in on Welker's chances of remaining in New England after the Patriots chose not to use the franchise tag on the slot machine for the second-straight year. Those stories have ranged in tone from optimistic to far from upbeat.

It kicked off Tuesday morning when Yahoo! Sports wrote that Welker had some "mild disdain for the Patriots right now" dating back to how he was used to open last season, a year in which he went on to catch 118 passes despite starting just one of the first four games of the season and catching a mere three passes for 14 yards on opening day.

Later Tuesday, though, CSNNE.com reported that the game's most productive receiver in terms of receptions since 2007 and the Patriots were "closing in on a multi-year contract." Citing an NFL source, CSNNE.com said the sides were "hoping to have something finalized before the onset of free agency on March 12."

One day. One report seemingly making Welker's future in New England sound a bit tenuous. Another report making is sound like an extension with the Patriots was pretty close to a done deal.

Then today came a report on ESPN.com that seemed to put the proverbial pumping of the brakes on the idea that Pro Bowl receiver was near a deal to stay in Foxborough. Welker, according to ESPN.com's league source, "has no plans to re-sign with the team before first testing the free-agent market next week."

What do we make of these conflicting stories from unnamed sources? In the end, I still think that Welker wants to be in New England and will be a Patriot in 2013 when it's all said and done. Sure he may have his feelings hurt in the process, that's pretty common in high-stakes negotiations. Sure he may want to see if the grass is greener (as is money green) when the NFL negotiating period opens in three days on March 9.

But does Welker really want to start over somewhere else where he might not fit in quite as perfectly as he does working with Tom Brady? And do the Patriots really want to totally reconstruct a receiving corps that is reportedly going to move on from Brandon Lloyd and returns a pair of tight ends who've had trouble staying healthy of late?

From this perspective, the answer to both those questions is no.

But based on the last day or so, the rollercoaster ride to the finish of the negotiations between the Patriots and Welker – whether they end on a high or a low from the perspective of Patriots fans – is going to be a bumpy ride. Hang on!

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