Today, the Patriots confirmed the use of the franchise designation and issued the following statement: "Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007. Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."
It's no surprise that the Patriots' statement mentions that the two sides will try to come to a long term extension. However, I don't see the Patriots going beyond three years and much more than $25 million, so we'll see where this goes.
Of course, as soon as we know more details on the negotiations and whether or not the tag is the exclusive or non-exclusive version, we'll let you know.