Welker 'not sure' on future; Brady calls him 'heart and soul' of Pats

Welker 'not sure' on future; Brady calls him 'heart and soul' of Pats

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

After a heartbreaking loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, Patriots wideout Wes Welker spent the next few months answering questions about his future. That cycle starts again Monday too, as the wide receiver is once again set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

He was immediately pummeled with questions about his future following the Ravens in New England's 28-13 AFC Championship loss and did his best to deflect them.

"I'm not sure," Welker said when asked if he'd be back with the Patriots in 2013, via CSN New England. "I'm not worried about that right now."

Welker also said he was still trying to get over the loss to the Ravens (understandable) and that he was "not worried" about the possibility of receiving a franchise tag. That's probably not 100 percent true, but the notion that Welker was sweating his long-term future in the moments immediately after a tough loss is silly.

Of course he wasn't worried about it. And there's nothing he can really do about it right now anyway. That's something Tom Brady understands as well. Brady said Monday morning that Welker is the "heart and soul" of the Patriots team, but that the quarterback also understands the financial moves the Patriots make "aren't my decisions."

"I think those business parts of the game those usually take care of themselves. Certainly I'm not involved in any of those," Brady said on WEEI's Dennis and Callahan Show. "Everyone knows how I feel about Wes -- how our whole team feels about Wes. He's one of the best players I've ever played with and played against. He's just a phenomenal player.

"He's been the heart and soul of what our team is all about. He's been so selfless and the way he carries himself and commits himself to help our team win, it's second to none. But like I said, those aren't my decisions."

Welker's future is very much up in the air. The wideout and the Patriots couldn't reach a long-term extension before 2012 and the Patriots used the franchise tag on Welker. Doing the same thing in 2013 would be prohibitive for salary-cap purposes: Welker would be paid a one-year deal worth $11.4 million, all of it guaranteed and all of it counting against the cap.

He'd also command a pretty penny on the open market as a free-agent wide receiver because of his production. But Welker isn't a "traditional" No. 1 wideout despite his stats and he'll turn 32 this offseason, so the Patriots might not be willing to overpay in order to keep him in New England.

It's quite possible Sunday's game against the Ravens was his last as a member of the Patriots. But it's also possible the two sides can work out something along the lines of a two-year deal (short enough for the Patriots with enough money for Welker) that was discussed last offseason.

For now, though, Welker's future in New England is very much up in the air.

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