Found February 18, 2013 on Boston's Bettah:
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The Patriots need to decide which of these players will receive the franchise tag in the next two weeks The Patriots have some huge decisions to make by the time the franchise tag period ends on March 4th. Do they put the tag on Welker, and try to work out a long-term deal? Do they go with the same plan as they did last year in regards to Welker (franchise and let him play without worrying about him getting hurt for the future)? Do they put the franchise tag on someone else (Aqib Talib, Sebastian Vollmer) and either try to work out a deal with Welker or let him walk? These questions, amongst others, will be answered in these next two weeks. Are the Patriots going to invest years and money into a 31-year-old slot receiver? It seems as though they have two options (giving him a contract or letting him walk) after Around the League’s Marc Sessler has reported that “A source with intimate knowledge of the team’s thinking told Ron Borges of the Boston Herald that the Patriots ’are simply not going to put an $11.4 million franchise tag’ on the 31-year-old wide receiver.” In my opinion, I don’t see the Patriots giving Welker much more than the 2 year, $16 million guaranteed contract he turned down in 2011. Although Welker leads the league in receptions almost every year, he is getting older, has had some huge drops the past two years (don’t want to talk about it), and might not be the right guy to throw money at right now. The Patriots have some other huge holes, and with players like Ed Reed and Charles Woodson on the open market, they might want to throw some money their way. The Patriots pass defense was at the very bottom of the league once again this past season. Even though they improved throughout the season with the help of Aqib Talib (and new and improved safety Devin McCourty), they are still extremely weak at safety, and are one injury away from utter disaster (like we saw in the 2012 AFC Championship game). I’d like to see the Patriots franchise Talib and then try to get a deal done with him. This may cost the Pats some money, but I believe that it is totally worth it. When Talib was healthy, he played a huge role in the Patriots 2012 success. If the Pats were able to lockup Talib for a while, it would give them that number one corner we have been looking for for quite some time, while also allowing them to focus on other holes. One of these aforementioned holes would be safety, where the Patriots have not had a solid player since Rodney Harrison in 2008. The Patriots are hoping that Devin McCourty can work off his above-average safety play the second half of the season and become the ball hawk that we saw his rookie year. There are two other ball hawks out in free agency that, along with their veteran presence, would be perfect for the Patriots to sign. Charles Woodson and Ed Reed are Super Bowl Champion safeties who are some of the most respected people in the NFL. Either of them would be able to coach up the secondary while also solidifying the back-end of it. Even though Reed will be the more sought after player, he would easily be the better fit. Woodson has become extremely injury prone his past few years in Green Bay, and who knows if he would come to New England (it is believed he still has bad blood towards the Patriots after The Tuck Rule). Even still, Woodson would be able to help give this Patriots secondary a new identity. Reed is the more interesting commodity because not only does he love Bill Belicheck and the way the Patriots run things, but it seems as though he also has way more left in the tank than Woodson. Reed had a huge impact for a 2012 Ravens team that saw 3 of their 5 best defensive players go down at one point or another during the season. As far as I’m concerned, there are four teams Reed will choose from. The Ravens, Patriots, Saints, and Colts. Reed is from Louisiana, so it makes sense for him to finish his career at home with a contender that needs some serious help on defense. As far as the Colts are concerned, Reed has always had a good relationship with Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who used to be the Ravens defensive coordinator. The Colts are on the upswing, so Reed may want to hop on board for one last ride. Hopefully Belicheck can convince Reed that New England is his best chance to get one more ring, because his skills and veteran presence fits this team so well you’d think he was destined to finish his career a Patriot. Since early reports are saying that Welker will not be franchised, my hope is that the Patriots can somehow get him to agree to a two-year contract. Although Welker knows he can get more years and money from some other teams around the league, he also knows he won’t have a quarterback as good as Tom Brady, nor will he ever re-create the chemistry he has with Brady with another quarterback this late in his career. Hopefully the patriots put the tag on Talib and quickly after get a long-term deal done. That would solidify their cornerbacks for the most part (Alfonzo Dennard seems to be the number 2 of the future with his witty play in his rookie season). The Patriots obviously have some huge decisions to make this offseason, and it all starts with Welker, Talib, and the franchise tag. Is it really only February?
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