Report: Pats likely to franchise Welker

The New England Patriots will franchise tag wide receiver Wes Welker if the two sides cannot come to agreement on a long-term deal before the March 5 deadline, the Boston Herald reported Saturday, citing a source.

The $9.5 million franchise wide receiver tag, which is down $2 million from last year, gives Welker a one-year deal but no security.

The team reportedly does not want to risk him becoming a free agent because the market for Welker will be incredibly active.

Welker, 30, led the NFL with 122 receptions in 2011. He also dropped a long pass from quarterback Tom Brady that prevented the Patriots from gaining a first down near the Giants’ 20-yard-line, with four minutes left and a 17-15 lead in Super Bowl XLVI.

The Patriots were forced to punt a few plays later, and the Giants drove for the game-winning touchdown.

Welker felt he "let the team down" by failing to catch the pass, but Brady and his teammates refused to place any blame at the receiver’s feet.