Arguably the biggest free agent of the Patriots' 'big three'—that is, WR Wes Welker, OT Sebastian Vollmer and CB Aqib Talib—is just about squared away, according to CSNNE's Mike Giardi. According to his source, the two sides have agreed "they are far better with one another than without." Love appears to be in the Foxborough air, and spring hasn't even begun.
This is incredibly good news for the Patriots, who found themselves in a bit of a dilemma entering next season with only one wide receiver currently under contract. For Welker, it shows a deep commitment to the franchise and an acknowledgement that the grass isn't always greener; a deal is likely to be agreed upon prior to the March 12th onset of free agency, making it unlikely that Welker will ever have to test those stormy waters himself.
Financially, both sides appear to be much more receptive to the idea of compromising this go-around. After reportedly turning down a fully guaranteed two-year, $16 million deal prior to last season, the Patriots had no choice but to slap a franchise tag on Welker to the tune of $9.5 million. With this year's positional tag well exceeding $11 million—and Welker's understanding that there truly is no place like home (read: Brady's elegant passes)—it looks like at least three more years of Welker in New England are imminent.
This comes on the heels of Yahoo!'s latest report that Wes Welker was "miffed" at the Patriots due to frustrating contract negotiations. However perturbed Welker could hypothetically be, it'd be insulting to assume that the veteran wideout is that naive to the Patriots business-savvy dealings after spending five full seasons with the team. There are bumps in the road with nearly every long-tenured Patriot, and after a seemingly eternal standoff that leaves the fanbase with noticeably less hair follicles, the team renews everyone's faith and smartly takes care of their own. Any reported ill will towards the franchise looks to be water under the bridge at this point as it trickles into streams filled with 100-catch seasons, a boggling number of first downs and—hopefully—some jewelry for a well-deserved hand.
UPDATE: 3/6/13 10:22 AM - ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Welker will still test free agency before committing to New England.
Patriots free-agent WR Wes Welker has no plans to re-sign with New England before first testing the free-agent market next week.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 6, 2013