Report: Wes Welker, Patriots 'closing in on a long-term deal'

Tom Brady set the stage for pre-free-agency negotiations between Wes Welker and the Patriots last week when he took a team-friendly contract that reduced New England's salary cap, and now things are unfolding as expected.

On Monday the two sides made "progress" on a new deal, and there was a report Tuesday from CSN New England's Mike Giardi that Welker and the Patriots are "closing in" on a "multiyear deal."

This as-yet-unconceived contract would apparently allow Welker to "finish his career in New England." That's actually a little surprising.

Welker will turn 32 at the beginning of May, and that's not young in football years, but for a guy who plays the way he does -- i.e. a top-end possession receiver -- it's not inconceivable that he has five good years left. This isn't to question Giardi's report at all; I simply would be surprised if the Patriots gave Welker a five-year deal.

But maybe that's what they need to offer to make him happy. Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported on Tuesday that Welker still has some "mild disdain" for the way the Patriots used him early on in 2012 and that the decision to limit his snaps early "stuck in Welker's craw all season." (Welker would later comment on a 13-catch day, saying "It's nice to stick it in Bill's face once in a while." So, yeah.)

Cole also adds that "there's a little paranoia in Welker's camp right now" because they believe he might've been even more limited were it not for injuries to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. That's not an outrageous thing to think, either.

The reality is that the Patriots need Welker and Welker needs the Patriots (though I also think he'd be wildly successful in a place like Denver with a guy like Peyton Manning -- as a younger version of Brandon Stokely).

It's a good marriage and it's a marriage that makes sense for many reasons, especially for as long as Brady is locked down. Which is why it won't be surprising to see the two sides hammer out a deal before free agency kicks off on March 12.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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