Report: Wes Welker will test free-agent market

By Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com

On Tuesday it sounded like Wes Welker and the Patriots were moving toward a long-term union.

Now ESPN's Adam Schefter has thrown cold water -- more like a Nor'easter -- on that happy talk.

Welker “has no plans to re-sign” with New England before testing the free-agent market, Schefter reported, citing a league source. Teams can start negotiating with free agents Saturday, although deals can't be closed until Tuesday at the earliest.

Welker, who'll turn 32 in May, played under the franchise tag last season, but the Pats opted not to use it on him this year because it would have meant giving him a raise from $9.5 million to $11.4 million.

Although Welker finished with 118 catches -- his fifth season with at least 110 -- his relationship with Bill Belichick showed cracks.

His snaps were limited early. When he busted out for 13 catches against the Broncos in October, he cracked, “Yeah it's kind of nice to stick it in Bills' face once in a while.” Welker said it with a smile, but still …

It appears Welker could "stick it in Bill's face" again, by playing against him this fall. If the market isn't what he'd like, Welker could return to New England and catch another 100-plus passes from Tom Brady.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed, watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 ET and NFL newsletter. You can also follow Larry Hartstein @LarryHartstein.

 
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