Wes Welker, currently under the franchise tag, and the New England Patriots are now coming down to the final days and hours to complete a long-term extension. The two sides have until 4:00 PM on July 16th to come to terms on a deal.
It seems that, in recent months, there hasn't been much progress. The Boston Globe's Greg A. Bedard recently provided on update on the talks:
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.
That's not to say the sides can't agree. The Patriots could very well give in a little bit at the end.
The six million gap is a pretty wide margin, but as Bedard points out, it doesn't necessarily mean a deal can't get done.
Obviously, the Patriots don't want Welker to walk after the season. While they are worried about paying a 31-year-old slot receiver Larry Fitzgerald money, they know he can be productive the next couple of years. Bedard argues that if the team has any intention of using the franchise tag on him next offseason, that it would save money in the present and future to agree to an extension:
If the Patriots would be inclined to sign Welker to an estimated $11.418 million franchise tag to keep him out of a Jets uniform, then it makes no sense to have him play under the tag this season. A contract extension now could cut his cap number in half in 2012 and beyond. That savings could be used on extensions for Aaron Hernandez, Sebastian Vollmer, and/or Patrick Chung now, or rolled over onto next year's cap.
All together, it figures to be a complicated week. And with the news cycle as slow as it is, we'll keep you updated with every twist and turn of the Welker saga.